The Vatican protests against the conviction of a cardinal in France

The Vatican protests against the conviction of a cardinal in France
The Vatican protests against the conviction of a cardinal in France

The Vatican on Saturday described as a “serious violation” of freedom of religion the condemnation by a French court of the Community of the Dominicans of the Holy Spirit and Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet for the “without cause” dismissal of a nun.

The judgment of the civil court of Lorient (Brittany, west), of which the Holy See says it was only aware “through the press”, “could have given rise to a serious violation of the fundamental rights to freedom of religion and to the freedom of association of the Catholic faithful,” we can read in a press release released by the Vatican press room.

On April 3, the Lorient court sentenced this religious community to pay its former resident 182,400 euros for material damage and 10,000 euros for moral damage, in solidarity with the Canadian cardinal and the “apostolic visitors” (apostolic visitors). investigators) from the Vatican Jean-Charles Nault and Maylis Desjobert, went to carry out investigations on site.

The Holy See explains the severity of its accusations by the fact that the court ruled “on the subject of internal discipline and membership in a religious order”, also arguing that “Cardinal Marc Ouellet has never receipt of summons to appear from the Lorient court”

He further confirms, in his press release, that a note verbale concerning this matter was sent by the Secretariat of State (the central organ of the Vatican government, editor’s note) to the French Embassy to the Holy See.

The Vatican recognizes, however, that the cardinal “effectively paid an apostolic visit to the Community of Dominicans of the Holy Spirit by virtue of a pontifical mandate” and that “at the end of this visit, canonical measures were taken to against Mrs. Sabine de la Valette (ex-sister Marie Ferréol), including her dismissal.

Sister Marie Ferréol, 57, was expelled in October 2020 from her community located in Berné, near Lorient. An “exclaustration” without reasons, imposed in the middle of the night, after 34 years of life within his community. Since then, she has been living on RSA (minimum income) alone.

During the trial, the president of the first civil chamber, Armelle Picard, was surprised not to be able to have access to the Vatican indictment file. Me Bertrand Ollivier, the lawyer for the two “apostolic visitors”, replied that there was “no right of access to the file in canonical matters”.

The nun had lived without incident since 1987 in this community close to traditionalist Catholic movements. But, according to her lawyer, from 2011, things got worse, when Sister Marie Ferréol denounced “serious abuses and facts”.

According to the court, no proof was provided by the association showing that the cancellation had been carried out in compliance with its statutes.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was prefect of the Dicastery (administrative body assisting the pope) for bishops in the Vatican at the material time, resigned from these high functions in January, officially “due to the age limit”, when he was accused of sexual assault in Quebec.

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