Canadian Cardinal Close to Pope Accused of Sexual Assault O

Canadian Cardinal Close to Pope Accused of Sexual Assault O Dia

Canadian cardinal close to pope accused of sexual assaultAFP

Published on January 25, 2024 10:54 p.m. | Updated on January 25, 2024 10:55 p.m

Canadian Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, considered a close confidant of Pope Francis, has been accused of sexual assault in a classaction lawsuit against more than a hundred members of the Quebec diocese, according to court documents.

Lacroix, 66 years old, archbishop of Quebec since 2011 and cardinal since 2014, was accused by a woman who was a minor at the time of the events.

Since last year, Lacroix has also been one of nine members of the Council of Cardinals created by Pope Francis to help him run the church and which meets regularly at the Vatican.

He is accused of crimes committed between 1987 and 1988, Alain Arsenault, the victims' lawyer, told AFP. “The word is free,” he declared, denouncing that the attackers had “been under protection for a long time.”

“We are still in shock and trying to understand the new events,” responded Valérie RobergeDion, the archbishop’s spokeswoman.

The class action lawsuit, opened in August 2022, brings together the statements of 147 people who claim to have been “sexually abused by more than a hundred priests or employees of the diocese, some of whom assaulted multiple people or were members of Quebec's senior clergy.” ” says the lawyers' statement.

When contacted by AFP, the Diocese of Quebec did not immediately respond.

The class action lawsuit was specifically directed against Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who is also accused of sexual crimes.

Until 2023, Ouellet held one of the most important positions within the Curia, the central administration of the Holy See, and always “firmly” rejected the allegations, calling them “defamatory”. He left the position in January 2023 for reasons of age.

“Reprehensible behavior”

Since Pope Francis was elected in 2013, other cardinals have been implicated in allegations of sexual assault.

At the end of 2022, French Cardinal JeanPierre Ricard, former Archbishop of Bordeaux, admitted to committing “reprehensible” behavior towards a teenager 35 years ago.

The French judiciary's investigation into “serious sexual assault” was closed because the facts had expired, but the Vatican's investigation is ongoing.

In 2019, the pope suspended former Archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick after the Vatican found him guilty of sexually assaulting a teenager at least 16 years old in 1974 and inappropriate sexual behavior toward seminarians.

The fight against sexual violence in the Church is one of the projects of the pontificate of Francis, who advocates a policy of “zero tolerance” towards these multiplying scandals.

The Argentine pope set up an advisory commission for the protection of minors, abolished the papal secret on sexual violence by clergy and required religious and lay people to report every case to their superiors.

However, the confidentiality of confessions remains absolute and victims' associations are calling for more action.

Cardinals appointed by the Pope boast the highest dignity of the Catholic Church and are tasked with helping to govern the church.