The name of the Archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Canadian Church, Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, has just appeared in legal documents in which he is the target of allegations of acts of a sexual nature, as part of the collective action against his diocese. Four new defendants, including the Séminaire de Québec, are added to the list of legal entities being prosecuted.
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Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, during a mass at Saint Peter's Basilica, in Rome (Archive photo)
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Already facing a major class action for sexual assaults committed by staff members and of the clergy, the diocese of Quebec sees its highest leader, Cardinal Lacroix, targeted in turn.
His name appeared this morning on the updated list of alleged attackers, filed in court.
The actions with which he is accused allegedly occurred between 1987 and 1988 in Quebec. The alleged victim was 17 years old at the time of the incident. The accused actions: touching.*
Our client's parents were devout Catholics, says Alain Arsenault, lawyer for class action, in an interview with Radio-Canada. They attended Bible seminars. [The alleged victim] accompanied her parents and it was on this occasion that the events occurred. Cardinal Lacroix allegedly took her aside and made gestures of a sexual nature towards her.
Me Arsenault maintains that his client, whose identity is protected, kept silent for a long time, in particular for fear of her parents' reaction.
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Like many victims, when it happens, she is greatly disturbed, explains the lawyer. She thinks that it is her, that she is the cause and often the attacker makes more or less veiled threats. In this case, it's: "Don't tell your parents. It could kill your mother, devout Catholic." And indeed, she waited until her mother died before denouncing the situation.
From 1982 to 1987, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix was general secretary of the Pie-X Secular Institute. From 1985 to 1987, he was also director of the Maison du Renouveau in Quebec.
He was ordained priest on October 8, 1988.
Age 66, Gérald Cyprien Lacroix became archbishop of Quebec in February 2011, then named cardinal by Pope Francis three years later, in 2014 .
In addition to his episcopal office and his honorary role as primate of the Catholic Church in Canada , he exercises numerous responsibilities within four dicasteries in the Vatican, according to information available on the website of the diocese of Quebec (New window).
We also learn in other documents filed in court that 147 alleged victims have come forward to date as part of the class action.
< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">The lawyers who represent the victims in this collective action have also just contacted the Séminaire de Québec, the Œuvre du Grand Séminaire, the Collège François-de-Laval as well as the Assurance Mutuel des Fabriques du Québec, which now appear on the list of defendants.
The Séminaire de Québec is a community of priests founded in 1663 by Mgr François de Laval. He oversees the progress of religion, the training of the clergy, teaching and education, and supports the works of the diocese of Quebec.
The Superior General of the Seminary, Gilles Routhier, indicated on Thursday that he would not comment about it.
At least seven people allege that they were assaulted by priests of the Seminary on premises belonging to it or under its control at the time.
According to court documents, as of February 2023, he has assets totaling nearly $150 million.
The Séminaire de Québec and the Work of the Grand Séminaire shared several administrators and leaders. As for the Collège François-de-Laval, it was known as the Petit Séminaire de Québec from its founding until 1987, a period during which it was subject to the control of the Séminaire de Québec as well as the archbishop.
Since 1987, Collège François-de-Laval has become a mixed private secondary school which no longer has link with the Seminary of Quebec nor with the diocese.
The addition of defendants in this suit will eventually have to be submitted with the approval of the judge.
With information from Pierre-Alexandre Bolduc
* A first version of this text has since been corrected due to errors originally listed in court documents filed in court.
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