More people are coming forward to allege sexual misconduct by members of the Catholic Church in Montreal.
The ombudsman of the Montreal Archdiocese says the alleged victims were encouraged to step forward by this week’s news of a lawsuit alleging sexual misconduct citing Cardinal Marc Ouellet as one of the alleged perpetrators.
Marie-Christine Kirouac says she received three complaints after the allegations were made public.
“Which gave courage to some of those women I spoke to kind of saying, ‘If someone can go after a Cardinal, I am coming forward to go after a priest’,” Kirouac said.
The allegations were not against Cardinal Marc Ouellet but other priests.
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Kirouac was appointed ombudsman of the Montreal Archdiocese in May 2021 following recommendations issued in the Capriolo Report released in November 2020, which looked into the church’s response to complaints against Brian Boucher.
Boucher was a pedophile priest sentenced in March 2019 to eight years in prison for abusing two boys.
Kirouac’s fourth report looking into allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church in Montreal was released Wednesday.
She concluded that the church’s process of reporting and handling abuse cases is improving, but she wants to see more.
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Her report found that most of the people alleging abuse were adults at the time of the events, such as the woman who came forward to denounce Cardinal Ouellet.
Kirouac would ultimately like to see church law change.
She says currently, an abuser who is found guilty in a trial lead by the Vatican can only be removed from his position if they abused minors.
“Canon Law should go further, if you sexually assault an adult, I think you should bear the consequences,” Kirouac explained.
Victims of abuse agree the Vatican needs to step up.
It’s been more than a year since the Vatican launched an investigation looking into the allegations against Cardinal Ouellet.
“I believe a thorough investigation needs to be done,” said Mike McDonnell, communications manager of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). “I also believe that this information should be turned over to the Canadian authorities for a full investigation as well.”
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One of the lawyers handling the lawsuit where Cardinal Ouellet is named agrees.
“Why Quebec is not starting some public investigation like this? Probably because the truth is too horrible to hear,” Justin Wee, a lawyer with Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats said on Tuesday.
Global News reached out several times to the Vatican but obtained no response by deadline.
Meanwhile, Quebec’s justice ministry would not commit to an investigation.
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