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Quebec City cardinal 'categorically denies' sexual assault allegations

Quebec Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix says his soul and his conscience are at peace as it pertains to the sexual assault allegations that surfaced last week.  (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Quebec Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix says his soul and his conscience are at peace as it pertains to the sexual assault allegations that surfaced last week. (Steve Breton/Radio-Canada - image credit)

In his first public statement since being hit with sexual assault allegations, Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, the Archbishop of Quebec "categorically denies" that he did anything wrong.

The allegations surfaced last week and are part of changes to a class-action lawsuit that targets the archdiocese of Quebec.

That lawsuit was authorized in June 2022.

In court documents that were presented last Thursday, Lacroix, the Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, was among those named as alleged perpetrators.

Lacroix is also a cardinal who is part of a high-ranking group of advisers for Pope Francis called the Council of Cardinals.

The alleged incidents involving Lacroix took place between 1987 and 1988 in Quebec City when the plaintiff was 17. Lacroix is accused of touching her without her consent.

From 1982 to 1987, Lacroix served as the secretary-general of the Pie-X secular institute in Quebec City. From 1985 to 1987, he was also the director of the Maison du Renouveau du Québec, which is described on its website as a gathering place for prayer open to people of all walks of life.

The woman accusing Lacroix is not named in the court documents.

"I have never, to my knowledge, made an inappropriate gesture with anyone, whether it's with a minor or an adult," said Cardinal Lacroix in a video statement released Tuesday on Youtube.

He described the accusations as unfounded.

"My soul and my conscience are at peace when it comes to those accusations," he said.

Last week, the Archdiocese of Quebec put out a statement announcing that Lacroix would step away from his function "until the situation is cleared up."

In the video released Tuesday, Lacroix emphasized that this decision does not amount to a resignation.

He also said the archdiocese remains committed to making sure victims of sexual abuse receive "financial reparations that would be added onto other means put at their disposal for them to heal."

"We recognize the suffering of victims and it is with humility that we move forward in the class-action process," he said.

Negotiations between both parties have wrapped up without an agreement.

Lacroix said Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats, the law firm representing the plaintiffs, is the party that put an end to talks.

Alain Arsenault, one of the lawyers with the firm, said the cardinal's public statement about the negotiations violates a confidentiality agreement.

"If they're doing that, then I think they're in panic mode," Arsenault told Radio-Canada on Tuesday.

He also scoffed at Lacroix's comments about victims of sexual abuse.

"They have a lot of compassion of victims. Okay, that's great. But what else? Yes, they pray for victims, but what else have they done?"