Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet, who has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman, has stepped down from a top Holy See position due to his age, the Vatican said Monday.
Ouellet, 78, who has strongly denied the claims against him, is retiring as head of the Vatican’s Dicastery, or department, for bishops, it said.
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Pope Francis “has accepted the resignation presented, due to (the cardinal’s) reaching the age limit,” the Vatican statement said.
The Canadian, once considered a strong candidate to be pope, has been accused of abusing a female intern from 2008 to 2010, when he was archbishop of Quebec.
He was named in court documents in August relating to a class action suit targeting more than 80 members of the clergy in the archdiocese of Quebec.
In December, Ouellet said he had filed a defamation suit against the woman who accused him, “to restore my reputation”.
He is also facing a second complaint made by a woman in 2020, first revealed by French weekly Golias earlier this month and confirmed by the Quebec diocese on Monday.
The complaint was forwarded to the Vatican, a spokesperson for the diocese told AFP.
As prefect, Ouellet headed up the Vatican office that suggests bishop appointments to the pope.
He will be replaced by US bishop Robert Francis Prevost.