NewsPope's close aide, Cardinal Lacroix, named as suspect in Canada archdiocese sexual abuse lawsuit

Pope's close aide, Cardinal Lacroix, named as suspect in Canada archdiocese sexual abuse lawsuit

The Primate of Canada Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix
The Primate of Canada Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix
Images source: © Getty Images | Niall Carson
7:03 AM EST, January 27, 2024

Canadian media disclosed court documents this week related to grave offenses committed by clergy members. An updated version of a lawsuit first brought forward in 2022 was highlighted. It contains testimonies from 147 individuals who claim to be victims of sexual assault committed by over 100 priests within the archdiocese, inclusive of several high-ranking clergymen.

The new lawsuit, as reported by the AFP agency, lists 46 victims and several new suspects. French-speaking Radio-Canada focussed on one name in the lawsuit, Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, the primate of the country. The alleged victim was a seventeen-year-old girl at the time, reportedly sexually abused by the then-priest Lacroix.

The incident was narrated on Radio Canada by Alain Arsenault, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. He explained that the alleged victim's parents were devout Catholics and participated in Bible seminars. It is during one such seminar, attended by the parents and their daughter, that the incident specified in the lawsuit reportedly took place.

The lawsuit alleges that the Cardinal took the girl aside during the meeting. What followed were non-consensual acts, as alleged by the 17-year-old victim, which involved her being touched inappropriately.

Gerald Cyprien Lacroix has served as the Archbishop of Quebec since 2011, being named a Cardinal in 2014. He became a member of the Pope’s Council of Cardinals last year. His position allows him regular meetings with Francis in the Vatican due to his involvement in the advisory body of the Church's head.

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The lawsuit covered by the Canadian media pertains to the Diocese of Quebec, where Lacroix holds the position of Metropolitan. The list of defendants includes not only the clergyman but also the Seminary of Quebec, the church organization l’Œuvre du Grand Séminaire, the private François-de-Laval high school, and the mutual insurance society Fabriques du Québec.

Attorney Alain Arsenault disclosed that negotiations have been ongoing for a year, but an agreement has yet to be reached. The plaintiff is thus awaiting trial. Arsenault stressed that many victims, despite most of them being elderly, are willing to testify.

In response to the news, the Canadian newspaper "Le Devoir" published a statement from the Metropolitan Press Office. The Press Office reported: "We are still in shock, trying to understand the new circumstances of the class-action lawsuit. There are various interpretations of the facts alleged against Cardinal Lacroix. We are trying to understand and will be able to provide a comment later."

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