FALL RIVER – Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., has announced that a determination has been made in the case of a former New Bedford pastor currently on leave from ministry because of allegations of abuse.
Last November the bishop placed Father Daniel Lacroix on administrative leave pending the result of an investigation of allegations brought against him regarding sexual abuse of minors. Father Lacroix had been serving as co-pastor of three parishes that form the Catholic Community of New Bedford North.
In a letter to those parishioners read at the November 14-15 weekend Masses, Bishop da Cunha announced that Father Lacroix has been permanently removed from ministry following the recommendation of the Ministerial Review Board.
“It is with sadness that I write today to inform you that the Review Board has determined the allegations to be credible, and has recommended to me that Father Lacroix be removed permanently from priestly ministry because of conduct that is inconsistent with standards of ministerial behavior and in direct violation of the Code of Conduct for priests in the Fall River Diocese and the U. S. Bishops’ Charter for The Protection of Children and Young People,” said Bishop da Cunha in his letter.
“Based upon my own review of the evidence and the thoughtful work of the Review Board, I have accepted the recommendations and met this week with Father Lacroix to inform him of this decision.”
The Ministerial Review Board is in place in the Diocese to advise and assist the bishop with addressing allegations of sexual abuse and other clergy misconduct. Its membership includes primarily laypersons with expertise in law, law enforcement, healthcare, mental health treatment, and ministry.
Bishop da Cunha explained that the Ministerial Review Board reviewed and deliberated upon a report of an outside investigator hired by the Diocese to look into the allegations against Father Lacroix.
The incidents at the center of the matter occurred decades ago. The decision for their further investigation followed an external review of all priestly personnel files in the Diocese and the receipt of additional information recently brought to the attention of the Diocese. In accord with diocesan policies, all allegations have been reported to civil authorities for their review.
The bishop acknowledged “how troubling this matter has been for the parishes here in the Catholic Community of New Bedford North where he had been serving, and this announcement will surely add to that.”
Bishop da Cunha offered the assistance of the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator for anyone who may be in need of pastoral support and concluded his letter by asking for prayers “for all involved, most especially for survivors of abuse.”
In New Bedford, Father Lacroix had been serving as pastor of St. Mary Parish since 2017 and in 2019 was appointed co-pastor of a newly-formed parish collaborative in the city’s North End that included, along with St. Mary’s, the parishes of Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph-St. Therese.