As part of an ongoing class-action lawsuit against the archdiocese of Quebec, a high-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church in the province is now facing allegations of sexual assault.
The class action lawsuit targeting the archdiocese was authorized in June 2022.
Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix has now also been named in court documents that were presented Thursday morning.
The class action now also names the Séminaire de Québec, a revered institution responsible for creating Université Laval, the first francophone university in North America.
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.
Alain Pronkin, a columnist who specializes in religious affairs, expects the Pope to stand by the cardinal.
"For sure the Pope will defend him because he's a cardinal," Pronkin said. "In the past, he's defended every cardinal he's had [who faced similar accusations]."
Pronkin also said this latest development will hit church members hard because it shows that sexual assault and misconduct allegations within the Catholic Church's ranks aren't going away anytime soon.
"And that's what profoundly will hurt people," he said.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet has also been faced with sexual assault allegations stemming from the class-action lawsuit that was authorized in 2022. (Stephanie Jenzer/CBC)
Allegations against archdiocese piling up
Lacroix is the latest high-ranking member of the Catholic Church in the province of Quebec to face sexual assault allegations stemming from the class-action lawsuit.
In August 2022, Marc Ouellet, a prominent Vatican cardinal, was named in the lawsuit for allegedly assaulting a woman between 2008 and 2010, while she was doing an internship as a pastoral agent.
The woman, Paméla Groleau, was 24 at the time.
Ouellet then launched a lawsuit of his own, accusing Groleau of defaming her.
Since August 2022, 46 more alleged victims have come forward to be part of the class-action lawsuit against the archdiocese, bringing that total up to 147, according to the Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats law firm.
And since then, 15 more people with ties to the archdiocese have been named in court documents.
At least seven people allege they were sexually assaulted by priests either at the Séminaire or on grounds it controlled. A person speaking on behalf of the Séminaire declined to comment on the allegations.
Neither Lacroix nor Ouellet has been charged in criminal court.