Vatican clears Canadian cardinal suspected of sexual assault

Gérald Cyprien Lacroix will perhaps go to heaven… The Vatican announced Tuesday its decision to clear this Canadian cardinal, suspected of sexual assault in his country, on the basis of a report commissioned by the Pope from a former Quebec judge.

“This report does not identify any act of misconduct or abuse on the part of the cardinal,” the Vatican said in a statement. “A further canonical procedure is not envisaged” against this close advisor to Pope Francis, adds the Vatican.

Aged 66, this prelate is suspected of “touching” a minor, as part of a collective action targeting more than a hundred members of the diocese of Quebec.

According to the court document, the man who has been archbishop of Quebec since 2011 and cardinal since 2014 allegedly “touched” a minor at the time of the alleged events, between 1987 and 1988.

For his part, Pope Francis had asked former judge André Denis “to conduct an investigation into the facts, circumstances and attributability of the alleged offense” in a letter in French dated February 8 addressed to the judge.

A close friend of the Pope

The magistrate, retired from the superior court of Quebec, notably headed the commission responsible for investigating the French cleric Joannes Rivoire, 93, accused of sexual assault on young Inuit in Canada in the 1960s.

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He accepted the mission, specifying that the report would be “submitted to Pope Francis” to decide what action to take. He concluded his preliminary investigation on May 6, 2024 and his conclusions were communicated to the Holy Father “in the following days,” the Vatican said.

Cardinal Lacroix is ​​one of the nine members of the C9, the council of cardinals set up by Pope Francis to assist him in the government of the Church, which meets regularly at the Vatican.

” Zero tolerance “

“Never, to my knowledge, have I made any inappropriate actions towards anyone, whether minors or adults,” the prelate said at the end of January, saying he was “very affected by the extent of the damage caused by these unfounded allegations. He had announced “a temporary withdrawal” to “allow a better assessment of the next steps to be taken”, but remained a member of the C9.

Since the election of Pope Francis in 2013, other cardinals have been embroiled in accusations of sexual assault. The fight against sexual violence in the Church constitutes one of the projects of the pontificate of Francis, who defends a policy of “zero tolerance” in the face of the multiplication of scandals and regularly recognizes that the Church must “do more” against this scourge.

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