By Deborah Gyapong
Catholic News Service
OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) — Cardinal-designate Gerald Lacroix said he sees his elevation to the College of Cardinals as a nomination for the whole Quebec Archdiocese — more than 1 million Catholics.
He said Pope Francis knows Quebec and knows Catholics there need encouragement.
The province has seen a breakdown of the family, an increase in individualism and a lack of respect for life, the cardinal-designate said, noting that a province "with so many resources is on the verge of legalizing euthanasia."
The Quebec archbishop was among 19 new cardinals Pope Francis named Jan. 12; he will receive his red hat at a Feb. 22 consistory in Rome. The announcement came as Quebec marks the 350th anniversary of the founding of the first parish in North America.
At a news conference Jan. 13, the cardinal-designate said euthanasia, abortion and family breakdown are not just a concern for Quebeckers. He said the family is the foundational cell necessary for the building of a good society.
Speaking in English and French, the cardinal-designate responded to journalists’ questions about why he was not as provocative as his predecessor, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who now heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. Cardinal Ouellet often was criticized in the media for his stands on Catholic moral teaching.
Cardinal-designate Lacroix said Pope Francis is very provocative in what he says. "I am in that line," he said, adding that it is the Gospel that provokes, that changes hearts.
"I think that when the heart is changed, when it is changed by God, then one can talk about the moral questions. That’s how I work," he said.
Asked how he resembles or differs from Pope Francis, Cardinal-designate Lacroix told reporters: "He has a lot more experience. He is a Jesuit; he’s a scholar. I am not a scholar."
But the cardinal-designate’s years as a missionary in South America and similar work in Quebec preaching retreats has given him a lot of pastoral experience.
"We have that in common. We like to work with people," he said. "Both of us are in love with the Gospel of Jesus Christ."
Gatineau Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the cardinal-designate "is recognized throughout the country as an extraordinary leader who is an enthusiastic preacher, with an unmistakable missionary zeal that is accented by his complete dedication to the new evangelization. He is known as a man of sincerity and humility who possesses a welcoming spirit. Most of all, he brings the person of our Lord Jesus Christ to everyone, regardless of their age, sex, culture, faith or personal circumstances."
Gerald Lacroix was born in Saint-Hilaire de Dorset, Quebec, July 27, 1957, the eldest son in a family of seven children. At the age of 8, his family settled in Manchester, N.H., where he attended the parochial elementary school of St. Anthony of Padua and Trinity High School. He studied one year at St. Anselm College in Manchester.
He joined the Pius X Secular Institute as a consecrated lay member in 1975, and made perpetual vows in 1982. The same year, he was named secretary-general of the institute. He earned a master’s degree in pastoral theology at Laval University, and from 1985 to 1987 directed the La Maison du Renouveau, a formation and Christian renewal center.
He was ordained to the priesthood in 1988. From 1990 to 2000, he served as a missionary in Colombia, where he established several houses for the institute. After his return to Canada, he became director general of the institute in 2001.
In 2009, he was named a bishop and served as auxiliary bishop of Quebec until his promotion to archbishop in 2011.
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