Pope takes a pass on visit to Quebec's Eucharistic Congress

  • January 18, 2008

{mosimage}Pope Benedict XVI won't be coming to Canada this summer to help Quebec City stage the 49th International Eucharistic Congress and mark the city's 400th anniversary.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet has lobbied hard to have the Pope in attendance for some part of the week-long congress June 15–22. Without Benedict presiding, the concluding Mass on the Plains of Abraham is expected to attract between 50,000 and 100,000, instead of about 200,000 who would have shown up for a papal Mass, said a spokesperson for the archdiocese of Quebec.

“Obviously I am disappointed,” Ouellet told a press conference in Quebec City on Jan. 17. “Because this visit would have raised the Eucharistic Congress of Quebec and given the 400th anniversary a worldwide profile.”

A papal legate, yet to be named, will represent the Pope at the Eucharistic Congress. Benedict has offered to address the Eucharistic Congress via video conference.

Hopes for a papal visit to Quebec in June ran afoul of the 80-year-old pontiff's other travel plans for 2008. Benedict will be in New York in April to address the General Assembly of the United Nations and will travel to Australia in July to attend World Youth Day.

Quebec's projections for participation in the International Eucharistic Congress as a whole remain unchanged at about 15,000, Isabelle Theberge of the archdiocese of Quebec told The Catholic Register in an e-mail. Registration is still open at www.cei2008.ca/en/.

The Pope's regrets were communicated to Ouellet by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

A petition circulated by Quebec City residents asking the Pope to attend the Eucharistic Congress had gathered about 12,000 signatures.

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