Canadian Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix of Québec speaks during an Oct. 11, 2023, briefing about the assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican. CNS photo/Lola Gomez

Lacroix again proclaims his innocence

By 
  • May 28, 2024

“I reiterate my innocence,” Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Lacroix says in a six-minute video that the Archdiocese of Quebec released on its YouTube channel.

Two days after the Vatican declared that a “canonical procedure is not envisaged” against the Archbishop of Quebec, Lacroix nevertheless said he hoped that “light would be shed completely” on the allegations of sexual assault brought against him by one of the 147 victims registered in a class action against the Archdiocese of Quebec. 

In January, the cardinal was named in court documents pertaining to a class-action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Québec in 2022. The allegations against Lacroix involved two alleged incidents from 1987 and 1988, in which the cardinal is accused of touching a 17-year-old girl on two occasions when he was a religious brother. The accuser was not identified.

Lacroix has denied any wrongdoing.

Lacroix invites the complainant, who chose “not to collaborate” in the investigation carried out for three months by retired judge André Denis, to reconsider her decision or even “to file a criminal complaint against me so that a proper trial is carried out.”

In a news conference presenting his findings in Québec May 21, Denis said "I turned over all the stones," in forming his report and that he told the Pope: "I see nothing in all that I've seen, archives, the people I met with, the places I visited" that could "link Cardinal Lacroix to the minimal accusation" that is part of the larger lawsuit.

However he conceded that "the great weakness of my report is that I could not find the plaintiff" that accused the cardinal of abuse.

"I did everything to find the plaintiff and she did not want (to be found)," he said. "The Pope knows, he saw all the details in the 70 pages I gave him."

“The community has the right to know whether the facts that I am accused of took place or not,” said Lacroix, who makes no mention of the other priests and bishops, still alive, whose names also appear in the table of alleged victims.

In the video, Lacroix, in a combative tone, deplores "the current delays in the judicial process." He nevertheless says he “believes and hopes” that a settlement of the collective action will be negotiated in the short term. 

“After the settlement agreements of the dioceses of Montreal, Amos and Trois-Rivières, I really hope that we also reach an agreement according to similar parameters,” he said. “Survivors of sexual abuse deserve that we do what is necessary so that they receive reparation that will help them heal and rebuild their lives.” 

Recognizing that he will undoubtedly disappoint many members of the diocesan Catholic community, the cardinal announced he has made the choice "to remain discreet by continuing the temporary withdrawal of my public ministry as Archbishop of Quebec."

“I will reevaluate my decision periodically,” he said, hoping that “my attitude and my choice, which demonstrate my respect for the judicial process, can contribute to the positive evolution of the situation.”

Alain Arsenault, the lawyer leading the collective action against the Archdiocese, said he “finds it very clumsy on the part of the cardinal and his advisors to have made this exit.”

Hearing and seeing a personality that the accuser has dared to denounce retaliate in the media, “it’s not easy” on the accuser, said Arsenault.

Arsenault said if Lacroix is so keen to obtain an amicable settlement, he knows what he has to do. 

“Give my number to the cardinal,” he said.

(This story is translated from French from presence-info.ca, with files from OSV News)

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