A Catholic church in Alberta is mourning the death of its leader who died in jail.
Father Martin Ouellette was convicted of the sexual abuse of a 14-year-old girl and pleaded guilty to the charge.
He was the first Catholic leader to be imprisoned in the country.
“I was a member.
I was a friend of the family, of the Church,” he told a crowd of more than 1,500 people at a funeral.”
We’re all the children of God.
I’m not a person who was born in this world, but I’m a person born in the world.
I can’t go on, I can only pray.””
But my life is not complete.”
Ouellette said he was “shocked and devastated” by the allegations against him.
“This is not who I am,” he said.
“And that’s not the way I want my legacy to be.”‘
It’s a sad day for our country’A spokesman for the Canadian bishops’ conference said the news of Ouellett’s death was a sad and tragic day for Canada.
“Our prayers go out to his family, friends, parishioners and the broader community,” said Father George Zechi.
“The Catholic Church has a history of working with and for victims of sexual abuse and has always been committed to supporting victims of this type of abuse.”
He added that Ouellettes life was a “model of courage and dignity.”
“We all mourn his loss,” he added.
“We mourn the loss of a Catholic leader.”
Oullette was born to a German father and French mother in Alberta in 1954.
He moved to Ottawa in 1982 to become a parish priest at St John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Calgary.
He later became head of the local parish and later led the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption Cathedral.
In the late 1990s, Ouelletas parishioner, who has not been named, reported him for sexually abusing her.
The woman’s father and other members of the congregation initially declined to press charges.
But in 2006, Oullette allegedly confessed to having sexually abused her, but claimed that he did not remember the details of the incident.
Ouelletles family eventually hired a private investigator to investigate the allegations.
The case eventually became public when the woman contacted police and a man from Ouel’s parish was arrested in 2014.
He pleaded guilty in February and was sentenced to eight years in prison.
Oulletles conviction was overturned in 2018.
His lawyers appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that the judge should have considered the fact that the girl had not told her story to police.
Ouallettes defence lawyer said his client’s story “was not at all the same” as the one of the victim.