Together with Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Feb. 4 to invite him to the city's 375th anniversary celebrations in 2017. The 375th anniversary of Montreal is an “extraordinary” opportunity for the Pope to deliver a message of mutual respect and respect for freedom of expression between governments and religious leaders, says Coderre. Twitter photo/ @DenisCoderre

Montreal mayor invites Pope to city's 375th anniversary in 2017

By  Alan Hustak, Catholic Register Special
  • February 5, 2015

MONTREAL - Pope Francis has been invited to Montreal in 2017 to participate in celebrations marking the city’s 375th anniversary.

In an audience with the Pope Feb. 4, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Archbishop Christian Lepine reminded his holiness that the history of Montreal and of Quebec is part and parcel of the Roman Catholic Church, and was once referred to as the “Rome of the Americas.”

Montreal was founded as in 1642 by Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve and by Jeanne Mance as Ville Marie, a religious colony.

“The Roman Catholic Church played an important part in the development of education, health care, as well as many other charitable works too numerous to mention,” Coderre wrote in his invitation. His letter formally inviting the Pope suggested the anniversary would be opportune for the pontiff to send a message of tolerance to the world.

“As all great cities in the world, Montreal is today faced with major challenges — poverty, homelessness and the integration of immigrants and its First Nations population,” Coderre wrote. “As Mayor these issues concern me, even if I believe that Montreal is a model of harmonious integration. But the sad events recently in Paris, in Africa and Canada as well, remind us that governments and religious leaders have an obligation to send a message of mutual respect for one another, respect for freedom of expression. The 375th anniversary of Montreal presents an extraordinary opportunity for the Pope to deliver such a message.”  

The invitation also suggests the Pope could make a side trip to Quebec City.

“Whether we are believers or not, the Pope’s message has an impact," Coderre said, adding that many religious leaders in Montreal are in favour of the idea. "We hear only good things about a possible papal visit.”

Pope Francis will visit Philadelphia this year for the World Meeting of Families. The last papal visit to Montreal was by Pope John Paul II in 1985. There is no indication yet whether the Pope will accept the invitation.

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