Cardinal Marc Ouellet on the State of Quebec
"I Hope That There Will Be a Reawakening of Our Spiritual Patrimony"
ROME, DEC. 11, 2003 (Zenit) - Cardinal Marc Ouellet hopes to help his flock rediscover its deeply Catholic identity.
The archbishop of Quebec talked about the mission that awaits him in Canada, in this interview soon after the last consistory in Rome.
Q: Your Eminence, after your time in Rome teaching dogmatic theology at the John Paul II Institute and after spending some time as the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, you are now the new archbishop of Quebec. What are the new challenges that you are facing right now?
Cardinal Ouellet: It is certainly a new life for me to be the new pastor of a diocese. After working in the ecumenical field and dealing with theological dialogue with other Christian beliefs I am now back in my own country, where my own Christian roots are, and I see the great need of a new evangelization in the terms of John Paul II.
Many of my brothers and sisters in the faith have lost knowledge of their own faith; they don't practice anymore and even lost memory of that faith. In the school system, history does not have a big place and even religion has lost its importance.
Therefore I see a great need of handing on the faith through the renewal of family life, a new understanding of marriage as the foundation of the family and of society, and also the importance of maintaining the school as a place where faith is transmitted ... and the parish community [as a place] to develop a stronger catechesis.
The school is not giving a real catechesis, therefore it is necessary to complete the religious practice in relation with the sacraments. That is one of the challenges we have to face not only in my diocese but also in the whole province of Quebec.
A second challenge is the youth. There is a gap between the generations. My generation has not really transmitted the faith to their children. Some of the children are not even baptized. We see very few children in church on Sundays.
Q: Is there a certain ignorance, or do you sense that there is even hatred against the Church?
Cardinal Ouellet: It is more ignorance among the youth. They have not learned anything about the Church. It really concerns me. But now, after the World Youth Day in Toronto, things are changing slowly.
I have invited young people to celebrate with me in the spirit of World Youth Day, and 700 of them came to my cathedral. It was a big success. I gave them catechesis and we had other activities the whole day. Many of them had been in Toronto; others came for the first time.
It was so good that we decided that we must repeat the experience of World Youth Day.... So I invited them to make a pilgrimage with me at the end of August to a very famous shrine in the diocese, St. Anne de Beaupré, and more than 500 responded with great enthusiasm to my invitation. We walked 14 kilometers together. I gave them the catechesis of the Sunday, which was about the Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians 5:31, where Paul speaks about marriage.
It was such a good experience. In the evening we had a celebration of the mercy of God and then the Eucharist and finally a fire at the river shore until midnight. Many priests came as well and gave assistance for the sacrament of penance. There is a new spirit developing here.
The attitude of the newspapers and television is usually not very positive toward the Church in Canada, but these events in Rome, the 25th anniversary of the Pope, the beatification of Mother Teresa and the consistory have been covered very positively. I hope this will have also a lasting impact on the youth.
Q: Can you say that the situation of the Church in Canada is similar to the situation in the U.S. or is it very different? Is there a similar crisis?
Cardinal Ouellet: I don't know the situation in the States very well. I think that in the States the situation is a bit better in the terms of religious practice.
The culture there is a culture of free initiative, and the Catholics had to fight for their own faith, because they were living in a sort of supermarket of different beliefs -- whereas in Quebec we had a Christian and Catholic society; everything was given and we took it for granted, and all of a sudden everything fell apart.
Secularization of all the institutes, hospitals, trade unions -- we had Catholic schools -- all of this fell apart in the last 30 years. Now we start to really react against this, because if we allow this process to continue we will also disappear as a nation.
Christianity was part of our cultural identity. If it disappears we won't survive as a culture that is French, that has its precise historical configuration. I hope that there ...
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