Canada
Abuse victims criticize QC Cardinal Ouellet

Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada waves as he arrives for a meeting at the Synod Hall in the Vatican March 6, 2013.

Credits: REUTERS

GIUSEPPE VALIANTE | QMI AGENCY

MONTREAL - Quebec City's Catholic Diocese pleaded Thursday for reporters to not help ruin Cardinal Marc Ouellet's chances of becoming the next pope.

Diocese spokesman Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre said recent media reports have sullied Ouellet's name and unfairly associated the cardinal with his brother, a convicted pedophile.

"Ouellet's brother has paid his debt to society after he committed the abuse," Lemieux-Lefebvre said to reporters in Quebec City.

"I am speaking to the conscience of communication professionals, to please not associate Ouellet to his brother as if it were a stain on the cardinal's record."

International media report that Ouellet is a serious
contender for the papacy.

"I think we need to ask the question, as a society, how do we want to treat (Ouellet) over the next few days, which will bring us to the end of the conclave?" Lemieux-Lefebvre said.

Lemieux-Lefebvre also criticized the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an international group that recently published a list of 12 "Dirty Dozen" cardinals it claims are "the worst choice for children."

Among the names was Ouellet's, who SNAP claims has shown that he doesn't understand the gravity of the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church.

SNAP spokeswoman Becky Ianni cited a recent CBC interview during which Ouellet claimed that the safeguards the Catholic Church implemented to prevent sexual abuse "could be an example for others in society.

"What about all the abuse victims in African and Asian countries who have not come forward?" she asked. "If the church thinks that it is doing everything possible already then it is wrong."

The Quebec Association of Victims of Priests is also critical of Ouellet's record.

Spokesman Carlo Tarini told QMI Agency that his group strongly favours Ouellet as pope, but not because they like him personally. Rather, Tarini said, a Quebec pope would raise international awareness to the sex abuse scandal in the province, which Tarini qualifies as one of the worst in the world.

"If (Ouellet) becomes pope, we will blow the lid off the cases in his former diocese and in the rest of Quebec," he said.

Tarini added that Ouellet did not respond to his organization's request to meet.

"He ignored us," Tarini said.

Lemieux-Lefebvre told QMI Agency Wednesday that Ouellet did take the Quebec abuse scandal seriously.

"The church encourages victims to come forward," he said.

"Cardinal Ouellet met with victims but he did so in private, away from the cameras."

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