Pope rules out sex assault inquiry into Canada cardinal

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Aug 19 2022 02:06 AM

St. Peter Basilica is seen from the square hours before Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve mass on December 24, 2017. The Vatican said Thursday that Francis has ruled out a formal church investigation into a sexual assault claim against a Canadian cardinal after preliminary inquiries found no basis for one. Andreas Solaro, AFP/file
St. Peter Basilica is seen from the square hours before Pope Francis celebrates Christmas Eve mass on December 24, 2017. The Vatican said Thursday that Francis has ruled out a formal church investigation into a sexual assault claim against a Canadian cardinal after preliminary inquiries found no basis for one. Andreas Solaro, AFP/file

Pope Francis has ruled out a formal church investigation into a sexual assault claim against Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet after preliminary inquiries found no basis for one, the Vatican said Thursday.

Ouellet, once considered a strong candidate to be pope, was named in court documents this week relating to a class action suit targeting more than 80 members of the clergy in the archdiocese of Quebec.

The 78-year-old is accused of abusing a female intern identified only as "F" from 2008 to 2010, when he was archbishop of Quebec.

In its first response to the case, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement that a "preliminary investigation" already ordered by Pope Francis had found there were "no elements to initiate a trial".

The pontiff went back to the author of that probe, a Father Jacques Servais, and was told again that there were no grounds for opening a formal investigation.

"Following further relevant consultations, Pope Francis declares that there are insufficient elements to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against person F," the statement said.

Ouellet is a prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, one of the most important functions within the Curia, the government of the Vatican.

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