Media too tough on Cardinal Marc Ouellet, says Quebec Archdiocese

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, spokesman for the Archdiocese, said that a recent list compiled by a U.S.-based group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, unfairly named Ouellet.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet at the Vatican (Andrew Medichini/AP)

The media have been too negative in reporting about Quebec papal contender Cardinal Marc Ouellet, said the Quebec City Archdiocese.

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, spokesman for the Archdiocese, said a recent "blacklist" compiled by a U.S.-based group, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, is unfair to Ouellet.

The organization nicknamed a group of 12 cardinals including Ouellet "the dirty dozen," saying it did too little to address concerns of abuse in the Roman Catholic church.

"When I saw this coverage, I could only say to myself, ‘This is enough,’" said Lemieux-Lefebvre at a press conference this afternoon.

He said none of the 12 cardinals on the so-called blacklist deserve to be on it.

"We can have a difference of opinion; you can question the position of the church," Lemieux-Lefebvre said. 

"But I believe, with the conclave a few days away, that we have to elevate the debate."

Brian Myles, the president of the Quebec Federation of Journalists, said the Quebec Archdiocese’s request is a prime example of how the church has failed to evolve in the 21st century.

"It’s not the media’s role to boost up the image, or even the morals, of the Catholic church," he said.

"It’s to report on the ongoing debate on the place, and the grasp, that the church has on modernity."

Myles also said Lemieux-Lefebvre’s statement is a way of telling reporters they should be more deferential to the church.

Instead, he added, the church should take the coming election of a new Pope as an opportunity to talk about rampant allegations of abuse, as well as celibacy and the place of women.

Pope subject to same scrutiny as politicians

During the March 4 broadcast of The National, Peter Mansbridge asked Ouellet — who has worked directly with abuse victims — if he was satisfied with the current monitoring of priests, bishops and cardinals.

"I think the protocols that have been set up are effective if they are followed, but in general, you know you may have some cases, but in general it is very much respected and carefully treated," said Ouellet.

Archdiocese spokesman Lemieux-Lefebvre also asked the media to leave Ouellet’s brother out of the news, even if he doesn’t think it will affect Ouellet’s papal candidacy.

Paul Ouellet was arrested in 2008 and later pleaded guilty to multiple counts of sexual assault. He served a 15-month sentence in the community.

"He paid his debt to society for abusing minors," Lemieux-Lefebvre said.

Myles said Ouellet’s brother is part of the narrative and Ouellet,as the potential leader of a church with more than a billion followers, should be subject to the same scrutiny as politicians.

"It’s not up to the church to decide what we’ll report on," he said.

Of the Archdiocese’s request, he said "the church still has a long way to go before fully embracing modernity and its challenges."

Still, Lemieux-Lefebvre said the possible election of a Quebecer to the highest position in the Vatican is a momentous occasion.

"We need to cherish this moment, this historic moment for the nation. For Canada, for Quebec," he said.