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Quebec City cardinal withdraws from duty amid sexual assault allegations in class-action suit

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, seen here during mass in the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 23, 2014, is now facing sexual assault allegations as part of a class-action lawsuit. (Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press - image credit)
Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, seen here during mass in the St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on Feb. 23, 2014, is now facing sexual assault allegations as part of a class-action lawsuit. (Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press - image credit)

A high-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church in Quebec is temporarily withdrawing from his duties after sexual assault allegations surfaced.

The Catholic Church of Quebec announced Friday in a news release that Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix continues to deny the allegations and he considers them unfounded, but he will withdraw from his duties until the situation is clarified.

"The diocesan team understands this decision which it accepts with sadness," the release states.

The allegations came up as part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec. The lawsuit targeting the archdiocese was authorized in June 2022.

Lacroix was named in court documents that were presented Thursday morning.

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.

The woman is not named in the court documents.

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.

Lacroix was ordained as a priest in 1988.

Lacroix, who is now 66, became archbishop of Quebec in February 2011. He was appointed as a cardinal by Pope Francis in 2014.

Last year, he was elevated to the Council of Cardinals, a group of cardinals who serve as advisers to the Pope.

In Friday's news release, the Catholic Church of Quebec says, in the coming days, Lacroix will send a personal communication to the diocesans of Quebec which will be relayed to the media.

The church, however, says it will not provide interviews given that this case is before the court.

"The diocesan authorities will continue to move forward in the class-action lawsuit process, with respect for the truth and with the aim of offering reparation to survivors of sexual abuse," the news release says.