Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet is among the “Dirty Dozen” of cardinals who should not be considered for pope, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
SNAP, the largest U.S. advocacy group representing abuse victims, said the dozen would be “the worst choices in terms of protecting kids, healing victims and exposing corruption.”
A spokesman for Cardinal Ouellet said SNAP’s allegations against the cardinal were inaccurate and misleading.
SNAP says it represents 12,000 victims and has opened offices in Germany, Canada and elsewhere. Formed in 1989 as a support group, its allegations that certain cardinals were involved in abuse cover-ups have substantially raised its profile.
The blacklist includes several other cardinals who are thought to be among the top contenders to become pope: Timothy Dolan of New York, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Angelo Scola of Italy.
In an interview, SNAP’s victims’ outreach director, Barbara Dorris, said Cardinal Ouellet made the list “in large part because of his handling of the [Cardinal] Keith O’Brien scandal” and because “he won’t meet with victims in Canada.”
Scotland’s Cardinal O’Brien, who resigned last week, on Sunday issued a statement confessing that he had been involved in gay “sexual misconduct” with three priests and one former priest. The Times of London reported that a fifth person complained to the Vatican about Cardinal O’Brien last October and was summoned to Rome, where he met with Cardinal Ouellet, who is prefect for the Congregation for Bishops.
Ms. Dorris said Cardinal Ouellet should have demanded Cardinal O’Brien’s resignation on the spot.
But Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, communications director for the archdiocese of Quebec and Cardinal Ouellet’s former press secretary, disputed both of SNAP’s allegations. He said he could not confirm that Cardinal Ouellet met with Cardinal O’Brien in the fall. “We don’t know when [Cardinal Ouellet] got the full information about O’Brien,” he said. “What is important is the end result,” referring to the resignation and the confession.
Mr. Lemieux-Lefebvre said Cardinal Ouellet had met with sexual abuse victims in Canada and in Ireland but “just never made a big deal about” publicizing the meetings.
John Allen, author of several books on the Vatican and a correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter, said SNAP’s blacklist “won’t have a lot of impact” on the 115 cardinals who are to elect a new pope this month.