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Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, in a January 2024 videoFacebook

QUEBEC CITY (LifeSiteNews) — The Holy See has cleared Quebec’s Cardinal Gérald Lacroix of any misconduct following a canonical investigation after he was named in a sexual abuse class-action lawsuit earlier this year.

On May 21, the Holy See Press Office issued a statement announcing that no misconduct or abuse had been found to have been committed by Lacroix.

The statement released the summary of an investigation into Lacroix which was carried out by André Denis – a retired Judge of the Superior Court of Québec – at the behest of Pope Francis in February.

With the canonical investigation having concluded on May 6, and Francis having been informed of the results, Denis moved to clear Lacroix’s name, insofar as the Catholic Church is concerned.

“In the light of the facts examined by the judge, the report does not permit to identify any actions that amount to misconduct or abuse on the part of Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix. Consequently, no further canonical procedure is foreseen,” the statement read.

The allegations against Lacroix were revealed in a case filed January 25 by the law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee. The class-action suit, approved in 2022, “covers anyone who was sexually assaulted by clergy or lay personnel who were under the responsibility of the Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City, dating back to 1940.” 

In January, Lacroix was added to that 2022 suit alongside some 15 named individuals. He was personally accused of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl between 1987 and 1988. The accusation against Lacroix listed acts of sexual touching, penetration, and oral sex, Canadian Press reported, with the alleged victim stating that Lacroix warned her to keep quiet about the assault. 

Lacroix has consistently denied the allegations and the accuser’s identity has remained anonymous.

The accusations are part of the same suit in which another Quebec cardinal, Marc Ouellet, was accused in 2022 of sexual misconduct against an adult woman, which was alleged to have taken place in 2008.

Denis’ 66-page report has not been released in full, though he issued a press summary as published by the Archdiocese of Quebec. He stated that Lacroix’s accuser refused to meet with Denis during his investigation, and hence he relied on media statements given by her legal team in order to assess the alleged actions.

Denis wrote that Lacroix’s “record is beyond reproach” and that the alleged abuse did not fit with the historical timeline of Lacroix’s actions or pastoral activity. The allegations, wrote Denis, are “implausible.”

Upon being named in the class-action suit, Lacroix withdrew from public activities in the archdiocese, though continued to be an active member of Pope Francis’ C9 Council of Cardinal advisors.

Welcoming Denis’ report, the Archdiocese of Quebec stated Lacroix would continue to lead a more withdrawn life for the time being. 

Quebec Auxiliary Bishop Marc Pelchat, who has assumed temporary governance, stated that the archdiocese is “sensitive to the suffering of survivors of sexual abuse and those who seek justice and reparation.” 

“Situations such as this have difficult consequences for stakeholders, both on the complainants’ side and on those involved. We are determined to contribute to a just settlement,” he said.

The class-action lawsuit is currently on hold, with numerous out of court settlements having proved fruitless, and with Denis predicting that a trial was not expected for “several years.”