The Vatican announced on Tuesday, May 21, its decision to clear Canadian Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, suspected of sexual assault in his country, based on a report commissioned by the Pope from a former Quebec judge.

“This report does not make it possible to identify any act of misconduct or abuse on the part of Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix,” says the Vatican. “Consequently, a more in-depth canonical procedure is not envisaged” against this close advisor to Pope Francis, according to the same source.

Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the Canadian Catholic Church, was caught up at the end of January by the sexual violence scandal that has shaken his diocese for several years. The Canadian press revealed that the 66-year-old prelate was accused of sexual assault committed on a 17-year-old minor between 1987 and 1988.

The Canadian press reported that the victim, a member of a devout Catholic family, attended Bible seminars with her parents. It would be on this occasion that the alleged assault took place. The victims’ lawyer, Alain Arsenault, spoke of “touching” to Agence France-Presse.

One of the nine members of the C9

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.

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.

He had 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 findings were communicated to the Holy Father “in the following days,” the Vatican said.

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

“Never, to my knowledge, have I made any inappropriate actions towards anyone, whether minors or adults,” the prelate affirmed 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.