Canadian files lawsuit, says Pius X Secular Institute ignored abuse

A $367,000 (US$274,000) lawsuit filed in Quebec Superior Court charged the Pius X Secular Institute and its officials of ignoring abuse that occurred on the institute grounds in Quebec City in the 1970s and 1980s.

Andre Lachance, 48, filed the suit claiming he was sexually abused by his uncle, Jean-Paul Lachance, a lay missionary and member of the institute. Andre Lachance, then a boy, claimed the abuse occurred when he was visiting his uncle, who committed suicide in 2014, after having been accused by two different plaintiffs of indecent exposure.

In his lawsuit, Andre Lachance claimed the leaders of the Pius X Secular Institute knew about the alleged abuse against him but did nothing about it. Lachance claims he had alerted one the members of the institute, Gerald Lacroix, who was ordained a priest in 1988 and is now Quebec's cardinal.

Lacroix reacted on his Facebook page Feb. 22.

"All my life, I've always condemned silence in front of sex-abuse allegations," wrote Lacroix. "I've never overlooked any abuse allegation drawn to my attention. Never." He expressed confidence in the justice system "to shed light on the facts alleged."

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"As bishop of the Catholic Church of Quebec, I place the search for the truth in the foreground with the interest of justice. Our church (has) a duty to listen to the victims and to accompany all the people who are suffering."

Founded in Manchester, New Hampshire, in 1939, the Pius X Secular Institute has single laymen and priests as consecrated members and single men and women, priests and married couples as associate members. Members live in Canada, the United States, Haiti, Colombia, Bolivia, Honduras and Venezuela.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 17. The institute had 15 days to answer.

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