Montreal auxiliary Bishop Christian Lepine Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Montreal Auxiliary Bishop Christian Lépine succeeds Cardinal Turcotte as archbishop of Montreal

By  Catholic News Service
  • March 22, 2012

OTTAWA - Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who reached retirement age last June, and appointed Christian Lépine to succeed him as Archbishop of Montreal.

Named last July as auxiliary Bishop of Montreal, Lépine, 60, was ordained to the episcopacy last September with auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd. His installation will take place on April 27.

The archbishop-elect served as director of the Grand Seminary of Montreal from 2000 until 2006, and since 2006 as pastor for two parishes in the diocese before becoming an auxiliary bishop. With degrees in theology from the University of Montreal, and philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Lépine also served for a year in the Vatican's Secretariat of State and for a year in the Congregation for Divine Worship.

In an interview, Lépine said he received the news prayerfully, "from the perspective of answering Christ and doing the mission with the power of His grace."

Since his ordination, Lépine said he has appreciated the opportunity to get to know the different people and groups, speaking many different languages, in the diocese of 1.5 million Catholics, the second largest diocese in Canada.

"It was like entering more and more into the deep water of the diocese and receiving the people, listening to the people, taking the time to have the personal contact with the people I got to meet," he said.

Lépine says his vision includes keeping time for personal contact with the people of his diocese.

"A bishop does not exist for himself; a priest does not exist for himself, but to help people discover God and meet him," he said.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal arrives at Santa Andrea della Valle Church in Rome Oct. 18 for a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Andre Bessette. Canadians packed the church the day after Pope Benedict XVI canonized their new sa int and five others at the Vatican.

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal arrives at Santa Andrea della Valle Church in Rome Oct. 18 2010 for a Mass of thanksgiving for the canonization of St. Andre Bessette. Canadians packed the church the day after Pope Benedict XVI canonized their new saint and five others at the Vatican. The Pope has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who reached the normal retirement age of 75 last June. Cardinal Turcotte had led the archdiocese since 1990.

CNS Photo/Paul Haring

In Quebec, where the secularist pressures are among the strongest in Canada to push religion out of the public square, Lépine said he is good to have a distinction between Church and state to protect religious freedom. But he rejects the notion that religious faith should be restricted to the private sphere.

"Freedom of religion means the freedom to profess our faith in the public and the private sphere," he said. "It's never about imposing anything on anyone."

Lépine said he has appreciated how Cardinal Turcotte has "always kept Christ at the centre," and made the "project of the diocese to announce Christ in this world."

In his 22 years as archbishop, Turcotte's message has been, "when times are difficult it is time to meet Christ more and more."

"There is never a point where you can say I know Christ and now I will go do something else," Lépine said. "Christ is not a program."

He hopes to continue building on Turcotte's legacy, to "be more and more the Church of Jesus Christ."

"When we have many things to do, many projects, it's not about our projects but about the plan of God."

Turcotte reached the retirement age of 75 last June. Ordained to the priesthood in 1959, the Montreal-born priest was named auxiliary Bishop of Montreal in 1982 by Pope John Paul II, who appointed him Archbishop of
Montreal in 1990. He was named a cardinal four years later.  

For the past 20 years, Turcotte has served as an ex-officio member of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' (CCCB) Permanent Council; as CCCB president from 1997-1999. As a member of the College of Cardinals, he has served on the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, the Congregation for the Evangelization of People and the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops.

Montreal serves a Catholic population of 1,494,132 million with 214 parishes and missions, 400 diocesan priests; 572 religious priests; 3,678 religious sisters and brothers; 96 permanent deacons and 105 lay pastoral assistants.

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location
Type the text presented in the image below

Support The Catholic Register

Unlike many other news websites, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our site. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.