Church spokesman critical of 'Dirty Dozen' list of papal candidates

QUEBEC – A Roman Catholic Church spokesman is criticizing a list that calls Canada’s Marc Cardinal Ouellet and 11 other papal candidates the ”Dirty Dozen.”

Jasmin Lemieux-Lefebvre, communications director for the church in Quebec City and a former press attache to Ouellet, said Thursday that none of the cardinals deserves such negative recognition.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests put Ouellet on the list because it said he refused to meet with sex-abuse victims. Ouellet recently told the CBC he met with victims during a visit to Ireland.

The ”Dirty Dozen” reference comes from a 1967 film of the same name that features 12 convicts assigned to a raid on a German-filled chateau during the Second World War.

Lemieux-Lefebvre was particularly upset because Ouellet and the 11 other papal candidates on the list are being associated with a crude word that is used in the movie’s translated French title.

He told a news conference in Quebec City he has fielded many calls from people who were deeply hurt by the association.

”To hear the name of Marc Cardinal Ouellet associated with that word affected a lot of people,” said Lemieux-Lefebvre, who denied being a ”cheerleader” for his former boss.

”None of the 12 cardinals on the black list deserves to be called that.”

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was quick to make an apology for the translation issue.

“We sincerely apologize for offending anyone by using the phrase ‘dirty dozen’,” Clohessy said in a statement Thursday evening.

“We are a staff of three abuse victims working very hard to protect kids, help victims, expose wrongdoers and deter cover ups in a huge, powerful, global institutions. We simply are incapable of monitoring how a 40- year- old movie title translates into multiple languages and slang expression.

“We hope Catholics and citizens, in Canada and elsewhere, will focus on what we believe really matters.”

Ouellet’s former press attache also urged the media to no longer discuss the case of Paul Ouellet, a younger brother of the cardinal who was sentenced to 15 months’ community service a few years ago for assaults against two minors in the 1980s and early 1990s.

”The cardinal’s brother has paid his debt to society after abuse committed on minors,” he said.

”How can this affect the candidacy, or I would say the personal, professional and spiritual qualities of Marc Cardinal Ouellet? In no way whatsoever.

”It’s been talked about. I think we’ve got to turn the page.”

In the end, though, Lemieux-Lefebvre doesn’t believe all the negative talk will have any impact on Ouellet’s papal aspirations.

”I pray they don’t and I don’t believe they will.”