Pope Francis said there is not enough evidence to launch an investigation into Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet for allegations of sexual assault, a Vatican spokesman said Thursday.
“After the preliminary investigation assigned by the pope to Father Jacques Servais … and after other relevant consultations, Pope Francis states that there is not sufficient evidence to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against the person F.,” Matteo Bruni said in the statement.
Ouellet has emerged earlier this week during a class action lawsuit against the Quebec Catholic diocese, which alleged cases of sexual assault starting in 1940 by 88 priests and staff working at the diocese.
Court documents named Ouellet as the assailant of a woman identified by the initial “F”, who accused the cardinal of inappropriate behavior during several interactions between 2008 and 2010.
Bruni confirmed that allegations against Ouellet were received by the Vatican and investigated by Servais, who concluded there were no grounds to proceed with a canonical investigation or trial.
Ouellet was archbishop of Quebec and primate of Canada from 2003 to 2010. He was made cardinal by Pope John Paul II in October 2003 and considered a possible candidate for election to the papacy in 2005 and 2013.
He currently heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which advises the pope on which priests should be made bishops.
Vatican experts said Ouellet is still among the possible candidates to succeed Francis if the pontiff dies or resigns.