Vatican responds to French court's civil ruling against Cardinal Ouellet

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The Vatican filed a diplomatic complaint with the French embassy after a civil court ruled in the first instance against Cardinal Ouellet and a religious congregation for the “unjustified and demeaning dismissal” of a nun.

These events followed an internal investigation Pope Francis assigned to Ouellet when he was prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, following several complaints filed within the community that led to internal tensions.

Specifically, the Vatican Press Office clarified several points on this issue:

On the one hand, they say they learned about this alleged decision of the French judiciary only from the press, and that the cardinal never received any summons from the court. If that is the case, neither Ouellet nor the other two investigators would have had the opportunity to defend themselves against the accusations.

On the other hand, the Vatican stated that a civil court should not rule on “internal” questions of “membership of a religious institute” because it could result in a “grave violation of the rights of religious freedom and of association of Catholics.”

As for the nun, she pointed out that her expulsion was unjust, that she could not defend herself and that she was ordered to leave the convent overnight. For all this, she requested a compensation of $850,000.

In view of this sentence, the congregation released a statement, saying:

This judgment, handed down by a single judge rather than by a panel of judges, is open to criticism on several counts, and we have instructed our lawyers to lodge an immediate appeal with the Rennes Court of Appeal.

For the time being, the court's ruling is that the congregation, Ouellet and the other investigators will have to pay about $200,000 to the nun for moral and material damages.


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