Mgr Lacroix on the list of alleged attackers: “It’s boring to say, but it is no longer an exception”

The allegations of sexual assault against Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, the highest leader of the Catholic Church in the country, created a shock wave, but did not surprise victims of priests and experts who believe that there will still be others.

The name of the 66-year-old cardinal was added Thursday to court documents that list alleged sexual assaults committed by members of the diocese of Quebec as part of a class action.

Mgr Lacroix is ​​accused of touching the genitals of a 17-year-old young woman on two occasions between 1987 and 1988, even before becoming a priest. His name is added to that of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, also targeted as an alleged attacker in this lawsuit.

“I didn’t fall out of my chair. We have seen him defend the indefensible for years, complains the former communications director of the Committee of Victims of Priests, Carlo Tarini. Sexual assault is considered a sin by the Church, rather than a crime. When we commit a sin, we go to confession and continue our life. That explains why there are so many attacks. »

At the end of the day Thursday, some faithful seemed surprised a little before the 4 p.m. mass at Saint-Jérôme church, on 3rd Avenue East, in Quebec. While some prefer to err on the side of caution, others do not believe in it.

“It always hits a little. There is no proof yet but it will create unease,” mentioned a parishioner.

” I do not believe it. It’s just to tarnish reputations. The Church is already prepared in advance. Is error allowed? », asked another lady.

A long list

Theologian and expert in the field of clergy sexual abuse, Jean-Guy Nadeau, finds it distressing that the list of alleged attackers “keeps growing.”

“Surveys in the Church indicate that 5% to 8% of members molest children. We do not know the percentage of children who have been abused,” he emphasizes.

Categorical refusal

Shirley Christensen, a victim of assault by a priest in the diocese of Quebec, recalls that, during the legal process which took her to the Supreme Court, Mgr Lacroix never agreed to meet her.

Shortly before the Pope’s visit to Quebec in the summer of 2022, victims of priests, including Shirley Christensen (center), spoke to ask the Holy Father for justice to be done in connection with the collective action against the diocese of Quebec.

Archive photo

“It was a rejection despite numerous attempts. Once he sent a so-called volunteer from the diocese to meet me. Ultimately, this man was a lawyer,” laments the lady.

Ms. Christensen also welcomed the decision of the alleged victim of the Archbishop of Quebec to denounce what she suffered. She invites him to “go all the way”.

“Do you realize that she waited until her mother died to report, so as not to hurt her? Imagine the burden on the shoulders of these people who waited so long to talk about what they experienced. »

No consequences

As he was appointed to the Council of Cardinals (C9) in 2023, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix now reports to the pope. The Holy Father could therefore decide to send him to the disciplinary tribunal, according to religion expert Alain Pronkin.

The specialist, however, believes that this is “very unlikely”, as Mgr Lacroix only faces allegations.

“I don’t think it will affect his reputation within the Church either.” His star will not necessarily fade. It’s not ideal for a CV, though,” he says.

The diocese of Quebec did not respond to multiple interview requests from the Newspaper. For his part, Cardinal Lacroix was in Bathurst, New Brunswick, to celebrate the episcopal ordination, the appointment as bishop of Mgr Michel Proulx.

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix (in red, left of the photo) was in Bathurst, New Brunswick, to celebrate the episcopal ordination, the appointment as bishop, of Mgr Michel Proulx when allegations of sexual assault surfaced.

Facebook live screenshot from the Diocese of Bathurst

-With the collaboration of Jean-François Racine

Who is Gérald Cyprien Lacroix

– Aged 66 and originally from Beauce

– Gérald Cyprien Lacroix was ordained priest in 1988

– In 2009, he was named bishop before becoming archbishop of Quebec in 2011

– In 2014, he was made a cardinal by Pope Francis

– In 2023, he joins the Council of Cardinals, nine representatives of the Church who answer to the Pope

Gérald Cyprien Lacroix and justice

– A judgment dated March 23, 2021 concludes that Cardinal Lacroix was not aware of the attacks perpetuated in the 1980s by a colleague while he was a member of the Pius X Secular Institute, even if the victim claimed the contrary .

– In 2013, Bishop Lacroix recognized that the Archdiocese of Quebec had not been up to the task of managing pedophilia scandals within the Quebec Church, in an interview with The sun.

– During an interview with Le Journal in 2022, the Archbishop of Quebec raised the possibility that the class action could be settled out of court to avoid victims having to testify.

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