Canada's highest-ranking Catholic doesn't deserve a rumoured promotion to the Vatican because of the way he's handled the church sex-abuse scandal, a victims' group said Monday.
France Bédard, the group's founder, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet repeatedly refused to apologize for crimes committed within the church, and for the hundreds of lives destroyed.
Pope Benedict is reportedly set to name the cardinal to the powerful Congregation of Bishops, which advises the Pope on the selection of bishops. Ouellet's office has not confirmed the rumours.
But Bédard, head of l'Association des Victimes de Prêtres, a group that helps victims of sexually abusive priests in Quebec, said Ouellet's rumoured promotion is unmerited.
"There are lives that are completely destroyed and that's why I've been asking for years that Cardinal Ouellet repair the damage that pedophile priests have done," Bédard said.
"The promotion that he might be getting is really undeserved. He has been very silent about the victims."
She made the comments outside a Quebec City courtroom following the appearance of a priest accused of being a pedophile.
The Quebec archdiocese did not return repeated calls seeking comment on her remarks.
Controversial comments about abortion
Ouellet, 66, is currently the Archbishop of Quebec and the Roman Catholic Primate of Canada, the church's top official in the country.
He was recently at the centre of controversy over comments he made about abortion being an unjustifiable moral crime, even in rape cases.
The remark was condemned by a variety of people, ranging from members of the federal government to provincial politicians in Quebec and feminist groups.
'It's scandalous [for the church] to be paying the legal fees of priests when victims are suffering' —France Bédard, l'Association des Victimes de Prêtres
Last week, a report from a well-connected Italian blogger linked Ouellet's name to the search for a successor to Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re, 76, the current prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, who is nearing retirement.
If the rumours are true, Ouellet has some work to do before he leaves for Rome, Bédard said.
"The victims deserve to be compensated now and the cardinal should act," Bédard said.
"It's scandalous [for the church] to be paying the legal fees of priests when victims are suffering."
Bédard, herself sexually abused by a priest, has long accused Ouellet of remaining silent in such cases — including the case of the priest whose court appearance she attended on Monday.
The criminal case against Rev. Raymond-Marie Lavoie, accused of sexual crimes against 11 former students during the 1970s and 1980s at a seminary near Quebec City, was put off on Monday until Sept. 20.
The accusers are teenage boys who knew Lavoie through their time at the now defunct Saint-Alphonse Seminary in Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré, near Quebec City.
A music teacher and director of student life at the school, Lavoie also watched over the dormitory.
He faces 18 charges.