Cardinal Marc Ouellet, a prominent figure in the Vatican who has been considered to be a possible successor to Pope Francis, was one of 88 clergy members named in a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec on Tuesday, as the Catholic Church faces its latest allegations of sexual abuse.Key Facts
Ouellet, 78, who has not been charged with any crimes, is named as a perpetrator in the lawsuit, which represents 101 victims who were allegedly sexually assaulted by priests in the Quebec church, mostly as minors, since the 1940s.
According to the lawsuit, which was first obtained by Radio Canada’s investigative program Enquête, Ouellet allegedly assaulted a 23-year-old female intern, identified as “F” by grabbing her and putting his hands down her back in several instances, including a massage in which she claims he reached too far down her back, between 2008 and 2010.
Ouellet, who was appointed Archbishop of Quebec in 2002 and made a cardinal by the late Pope John Paul II one year later, has been considered a possible successor to 85-year-old Pope Francis, who said last month that the “door is open” to retirement.
The allegations are part of two class actions filed Tuesday, including one against the Brothers of the Christian Schools of Francophone Canada, which includes 193 victims of alleged sexual abuse by 116 members of the organization.
The Quebec archdiocese, which contains 40 parishes and 452 priests, and attorney Alain Arsenault, who represents the alleged victims, did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Forbes.
The lawsuit comes less than two months after the FBI launched another investigation into 57 clergy members in the Archdiocese of New Orleans who allegedly sexually assaulted minors on trips across state lines.
Stories of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church emerged in the 1990s following cases in Argentina, Australia and Austria, and again in 2002, when the Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team reported the Catholic Church’s cover-up of years of abuse.
A 2004 report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, found more than 10,000 people made allegations of sexual abuse between 1950 and 2002.
A subsequent report that was requested by the Catholic Church in France and released last October found roughly 330,000 children have been sexually abused by members of the French Catholic Church since 1950.