ROME – After an anonymous allegation arose against close papal aide Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix of Québec earlier this year, a preliminary canonical investigation launched by Pope Francis has found no evidence of misconduct.

On Jan. 25, Lacroix was named in a class action lawsuit filed against the Archdiocese of Quebec in 2022, with court documents alleging that he inappropriately touched a 17-year-old girl on two occasions, in 1987 and 1988. His accuser was not identified.

Lacroix subsequently denied the allegations but made the decision to withdraw from leadership of the archdiocese while an investigation took place.

According to a May 21 Vatican statement, after the allegations against Lacroix arose Pope Francis on Feb. 8 asked Justice André Denis, a retired Judge of the Superior Court of Québec, to conduct a preliminary canonical investigation of the accusation.

That inquiry concluded May 6, and the results were presented to Pope Francis shortly after.

“In the light of the facts examined by the judge, the report does not permit to identify any actions that amount to misconduct or abuse on the part of Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix,” the Vatican’s statement said, stating that as a result, “no further canonical procedure is foreseen.”

Denis has been granted permission by the pope to issue a statement summarizing his investigation and granting him authorization to answer any questions that might arise.

The Vatican’s statement expressed the pope’s “profound thanks” to Denis for having completed the inquiry “with impartiality” and in a timely manner.

A former missionary in Colombia, Lacroix, 66, played a leading role in Pope Francis’s 2022 visit to Canada, and in March 2023 was named by Francis to his Council of Cardinal Advisors, making him one of the pope’s most important advisors on matters of Church governance and reform.

During last year’s session for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, Lacroix was among seven participants elected by the synod to oversee its concluding document, and he is expected to travel to Rome again in October of this year for the second and final session of the synod.

He was part of a lengthy list of alleged perpetrators in the Quebec lawsuit, which covers anyone who was sexually assaulted by archdiocesan personnel since 1940 and which at least 147 alleged victims have joined. In all, 15 people associated with the archdiocese have been named in court documents.

The allegations against Lacroix make him the second Canadian cardinal to be named in the same class-action abuse lawsuit, after allegations were against Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former head of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, were lodged in 2022 over alleged inappropriate touching in 2008.

A Vatican investigation later found “no grounds” for any action against Ouellet, who filed a countersuit against his accuser for defamation in December 2022. Ouellet’s accuser later claimed that two other women have come forward with abuse allegations against him, which Ouellet likewise has denied.

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