Quebec at the Crossroads of Faith and Culture
BY ANN WILSON
September 24-30, 2006 Issue | Posted 9/25/06 at 9:00 AM
Indeed, it once was.
The federal Parti Quebecois, which has swept the province in the last few federal elections, now has an official policy that endorses assisted suicide. Church attendance has been exceptionally low, and there is an acute shortage of priests in many places.
Pope Benedict XVI’s
recent words of warning to the bishops of neighboring
“When civic leaders sacrifice the unity of the faith, and sanction the disintegration of reason,” the Holy Father warned, “democracy is bound for failure.”
But there have been signs of new
life in the Church in
Light in Darkness
“Yes, we’ve hit bottom — it’s
pretty deep,” said John Zucchi of
“I saw a
bitterness towards the Church in the mid 1980s, more than in the rest of
“But the people have come up against a brick wall,” he said. “They are starting to go back to Church. The youth coming to the universities now are different. The battles of their parents and grandparents are not their own. Many were born in a spiritual vacuum. With no antagonism towards their parents they are starting to come to church.”
When asked why there is a turnaround, Zucchi first of all mentions the magnetic pontificate of John Paul II.
“Many young people were attracted to the faith for the first time,” he said. “Then the Holy Father followed up by encouraging the new movements and communities. Here was a place for young people to encounter the Church.”
Luc Gagnon is head of
“We are at the crossroads of a New Evangelization,” Gagnon said. “People now have to ask themselves, ‘Am I Catholic or not?’ The situation will be clearer. We had this illusion that there was a transmission of faith in the schools. Parishes are now more conscious of their mission, and we have very good instruments” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
But change need not be gradual, he
The burgeoning renewal is already showing signs in the priesthood.
“It is not so much who has a vocation, but rather, who does
not have a vocation to the priesthood
among the young men in our community,” said Father Réal
Lavoie, founder of the new
Marie Jeunesse has an apostolate of evangelization to youth by youth, offering hospitality and formation to the hundreds who come.
Said Didier Vingadassamy,
a native of the Indian Ocean
The Eucharist is central to the
young people in Marie Jeunesse, who spend several
hours a day before the tabernacle either in community prayer or in private
adoration. Such too is the life of another new community in
Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet said interest is growing in the 2008 Eucharistic
“Preparatory groups are forming across the country. Response to fund-raising has been outstanding, especially from the traditional religious orders,” he said. “There is good collaboration for the congress from all levels of civil authorities.”
Said the cardinal: “I dream of the congress that we can expand upon it, make of it an opportunity to recapture our Christian culture and make it fruitful.”
Ann Wilson is based in
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