Pope Francis orders investigation into sexual assault allegations against Archbishop Lacroix

Pope Francis has personally mandated retired Quebec Superior Court judge André Denis to conduct a preliminary investigation into allegations of sexual assault against the Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix.

In a letter dated February 8 and signed by the hand of the Pope, including The duty obtained a copy, François asked former judge Denis to give him, at the end of his investigation, “a detailed report of your steps and your conclusions”.

This report will allow the pope to decide whether the allegations are sufficiently credible to justify the opening of a canonical trial. However, the alleged victim of Mgr Lacroix, whose identity is not known, refuses to participate in this process, indicated to Duty his lawyer Me Alain Arsenault.

The latter considers that the Vatican’s approach is not “credible”. The lawyer, who leads numerous class actions targeting religious orders and dioceses, reports that other victims have gone through this process and emerged “bruised and victims of reprisals”.

He asks that his client’s choice “not to call the police, not to contact the Pope, but to register for collective action” be respected.


The name of Mgr Lacroix surfaced on January 25 in Superior Court when a new list of alleged attackers was filed as part of the class action brought against the diocese of Quebec.

The alleged victim, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged acts (in 1987 and 1988), claims to have suffered touching, fellatio and penetration. These allegations have not yet been proven in court.

In a short press release released Monday, the diocese of Quebec offered “its full collaboration” to former judge Denis, “but will not intervene in the progress of the investigation nor in its conclusions.” The diocese added that it will make “no further comment on this approach”.

On January 26, the day after the allegations were made public, Bishop Lacroix announced that he was temporarily withdrawing from his activities “until the situation is clarified.” The cardinal also “categorically” denied having committed the actions with which he is accused, describing them as “unfounded”.

A few days later, in a video broadcast to his diocesans, Mgr Lacroix declared: “Never, to my knowledge, have I made any inappropriate gesture towards anyone, whether minors or adults. My soul and my conscience are at peace in the face of these accusations which I refute. »

Several mandates

Despite the victim’s refusal to participate in the process, retired judge André Denis intends to complete his investigation. In recent years, the former magistrate has been entrusted with other mandates linked to the pedophilia scandal in the Catholic Church.

Last June, he was mandated by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to lead an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse committed in Nunavut by Franco-Canadian priest Johannes Rivoire. He also led a statistical examination of the archives of the Archdiocese of Montreal (comprising the dioceses of Montreal, Joliette, Saint-Jean–Longueuil, Saint-Jérôme and Valleyfield) and the diocese of Mont-Laurier, which made it possible to determine that at least 87 priests perpetrated sexual abuse from 1940 to 2021.

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