The New Year may be off to a good start in the province of Quebec. Pope Francis has added the lone bishop from North America, Gerald Lacroix to the College of Cardinals. Bishop Lacroix is an outspoken defender of life and the family, and has publically displayed his support for the Culture of Life by faithfully attending Canada’s National March for Life. Prior to his appointment as archbishop of Quebec City, he risked the ire of the media in his province by defending comments made by his predecessor, Cardinal Ouellet who in the spring of 2010 stated that abortion is wrong even in the case of rape.
Though Cardinal Ouellet was merely re-stating the timeless position of the Church, he was brutally vilified in the press. The late Fr. Raymond Gravel, a dissident priest and former homosexual prostitute, was particularly bitter in his denunciation of the Cardinal’s remarks. One Quebec journalist went so far as to express the hope that the Cardinal contract cancer and suffer a long, agonizing death. The Quebec legislature reacted to the Cardinal’s comments by affirming, by a 109-0 vote, “the right of women to free choice and to free and accessible abortion services”. Quebec Premier Jean Charest interpreted the motion, so overwhelmingly passed, that “Abortion is an inalienable right and the consensus expressed in the National assembly reflects the consensus on this issue in Quebec society.”
The reaction to Cardinal Ouellet’s comments was hardly consistent with Canada’s professed image of being tolerant, fair-minded, and staunchly opposed to bullying and hate-literature. It was also inconsistent with the stature of the man who has distinguished himself as a scholar, philosopher, theologian, and missionary who is fluent in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and German. But he opposed the Culture of Death, which seems to be a taboo stance in La Belle Province. He campaigned against same-sex “marriage” laws in 2005, and saw increasing abortions and requests for physician-assisted suicides as spelling out a Culture of Death. “Governments are funding clinics for abortion,” he stated in May of 2010. “I would like equity for organizations that are also defending life. If we have equity in finding those instances to help women I think we would make lots of progress in Canada.”
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Despite Charest’s claim that the abortion “battle is over and here there is no turning back,” Cardinal-designate Lacroix is hopeful. He fully recognizes that “society’s done a good job of pushing us back into our churches and sacristies, telling us you don’t have anything to bring to our society, that’s your thing, it’s personal.” Despite the bleak situation that prevails at the moment in Quebec, Archbishop Lacroix is intent on bringing “the light of Christ to all sectors of society whether it be education, politics, or health.” He told his listeners during a Priests for Life radio interview that he believes that a strong vibrant “Culture of Life” is superseding the “Culture of Death.” “I have a lot of hope in what is growing in our Church. There’s something dying, but there’s something new that’s coming up, that’s growing, that’s sprouting, that is filling me with hope”. He noted that in Canada, the “production” of goods has become more important than the good of the “family, the cell base of society.” Materialism has “drawn us away from family values” and has “hindered very much and hurt our families.” He pointed out that people have indicated to him that “we cannot go on living like this without having reference to God and his plan. . . We are not succeeding in li. . .We have tried to do it without Him, and it’s not working.” When people are searching for answers to such seemingly insurmountable difficulties, Canada’s new Cardinal went on to explain, the Church has something to offer them.
Perhaps the family in Quebec now has the “grace of the zero point” and has nowhere else to go than up. We pray for Archbishop Lacroix and his formidable challenge.