Cardinal Gerard Lacroix and Cardinal John Atcherley Dew

Two Cardinals, Abuses and Pope’s Investigation

One news program commented that “the police could not find sufficient evidence to meet the evidentiary test, which requires sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction.”

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(ZENIT News / Rome, 15.03.2024).- On March 4 the Archdiocese of Quebec, Canada, communicated that Pope Francis ordered an investigation of accusations of sexual abuse against Cardinal Gerald Lacroix, charges that the Cardinal has “categorically” denied. Moreover, Archbishop Paul Martin of Wellington, New Zealand, wrote a letter to the faithful on March 7, to make known that Rome is investigating the diocese’s Archbishop Emeritus, Cardinal John Dew, for a similar crime.

In regard to the Archdiocese of Quebec, on March 4 it was made known that “on February 8 of this year, Pope Francis requested Mr André Denis, retired Judge of Quebec’s Supreme Court, to undertake an investigation “ regarding the accusations levelled against Cardinal Lacroix.

Cardinal Lacroix  is the Acting Archbishop of Quebec, Canada, and a member of the Council of Cardinals that advises Pope Francis. The accusation states that he abused a 17-year-old girl some four decades ago. The lawsuit against the Archdiocese is requesting compensation. The Cardinal rejected the accusation according to documents shown to the Court in charge of the case, last January 25.

The accusation, initiated in 2022, goes back to alleged deeds that occurred between 1987 and 1988, when the supposed victim was 17. Judge Denis’ investigation will be carried out “in keeping with the dispositions of the Motu Proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi, on the treatment of accusations against a Bishop, an Archbishop, or a Cardinal.” Pope Francis issued the Motu Proprio in 2019, in which the procedures are established to prevent and report cases of sexual abuses and their coverup in the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father appointed Judge Denis investigator of the matter referring to the Archbishop of Quebec before he was ordained a priest, and asked the Judge to give him a detailed report of his steps and his conclusions.”

The Pontiff’s letter is dated February 8, 2024, two days after the meeting in Rome of the Council of Cardinals, in which Cardinal Lacroix took part, although a few days before, the Archbishop of Quebec announced that he was “withdrawing temporarily” from his functions.

Alain Arsenault is the lawyer handling the case for the Archdiocese of Quebec. He said that “André Denis is the only person in charge of the investigation and might make this mandate public if he deemed it timely. The Diocese will offer its full collaboration to Mr Denis at his request, but will not intervene in the course of the investigation or in its inquiries.”

In his letter, Pope Francis says that retired Judge André Denis, who has already carried out other investigation in a dozen dioceses, can “request other people to help in this investigation, in particular experts in Canon Law, when it corresponds.”

The process will begin when the Judge has “relevant information on the events.” He will have access  to “the necessary documents, for the purposes of the investigation, which are in the files of ecclesiastical offices.” It’s feared that the documents might be  “removed or destroyed,” in which case “the necessary measures “ must be taken “for their preservation.”

Article 13 on the carrying out of investigations ordered by a Dicastery or a Court of the civil society, by the Vatican or by the Pope , states that “the presumption of innocence and the legitimate protection of a good reputation are always recognized to the person investigated.” This text also explains that the investigator informs the person in question “of the investigation of which he is in charge,” listens  to him “regarding the events,” and invites him to present a defense brief.”

In regard to the Vatican’s investigation of New Zealand Cardinal John Dew, Archbishop of Wellington, Archbishop Paul Martin published a letter on March 7 of this year about the Church’s investigation of the accusations against the Cardinal and talks about “events that allegedly took place in 1977.” The Archbishop assured that the New Zealand Police investigated the accusation and “affirmed that it concluded its investigation and no charges will be filed.”

John Atcherley Dew was born in Waipawa on May 5, 1948, east of the north island of New Zealand. He completed his ecclesiastical studies in the Holy Name Seminary of Christchurch and in the Holy Cross College of the National Seminary in Mosgiel. Archbishop Paul Martin recalled that Cardinal Dew retired from the Archbishopric of Wellington in May of last year on his 75th birthday, age of retirement of all Catholic Bishops. And he confirmed that Cardinal Dew remained aloof from all public activities of the Church when he received the accusation. He also recalled that “Cardinal John has affirmed his innocence at all times.”

Cardinal Dew published a letter stating that he doesn’t know the person “making the accusations and has never seen him,” adding that “the accusation against me is false.” Moreover, he said that “I’m very conscious of the anguish this has caused many: survivors who have confided in me in our ecclesial community and my family members and friends. I state once again that all incidents of abuse are evil. I hope and pray that all the victims of abuse will find peace and healing.”

The accusation appeared on Channel Three of New Zealand, which gives local news on television. And it reported that Steve Carvell, 54, said that Dew abused him sexually when he was seven years old and that the memories of the alleged sexual abuse surfaced in the last years. “The reason why I’ve decided to share my story and appear today is the hope that other victims will get some strength from what I’m doing.”

It’s notorious that Carvell also alleges that he was abused by Father Noel Donoghue, another priest now deceased, and by a nun of the Upper Hutt parish of the Archdiocese of Wellington, in 1977. The Police said to Newshub that they have exhausted all available lines of investigation regarding the accusation.

The news program commented that “the Police was unable to find sufficient proofs to meet the evidentiary test, which requires sufficient proofs to furnish a reasonable perspective of condemnation.”

The Cardinal said at the time: “My retirement as Archbishop of Wellington was announced on May 5 of last year. On Saturday, May 6, I was informed that an accusation of sexual abuse had been levelled against me that goes back 46 years, when I was Assistant Priest in Upper Hutt.”

And he continued: “I said immediately, and I say again now, that there has never been a case of improper or abusive behaviour in my 48 years of priesthood. I found out that the complaint filed against me was presented to the Church’s National Office of Professional Norms and the Royal Investigation Commission on Abuse. I followed the Church’s protocols and withdrew from any ministry while the Police investigated.”

He also said that the matter was investigated in depth by the New Zealand Police, other individuals were interviewed and sworn statements furnished to the Police that show these accusations could never have happened. “The Police informed me that this investigation has concluded, the file has been closed  and charges against me will not be presented. From the moment I became Bishop, I’ve lived according to my episcopal motto: ‘Peace Through Integrity.’ Integrity has always meant a lot to me and the words of that motto have guided my life.”

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Rafael Llanes

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