Petition launched to bring Pope to Quebec

By 
  • November 7, 2007
{mosimage}OTTAWA - A former Quebec justice minister has launched a petition aimed at bringing Pope Benedict XVI to Quebec City for the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in June.

“With the petition maybe we can help him decide to come to Quebec City,” said Marc Bellemare. “Cardinal (Marc) Ouellet is going to Rome at the end of November. We think that the people can make the difference. We want to give the cardinal more arguments.”

Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, has said will be meeting with the Pope later this month to get a final answer on his attendance. The Congress also coincides with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec. Ouellet has said he hopes the congress will help bring a revival of Quebec’s Christian roots, as the diocese was the gateway for the evangelization of the whole continent.

“It is not only the birth of the city but the birth of Catholicism in North America,” said Bellemare, who now practises law in Quebec’s capital. “There will be 15,000 people to celebrate. Without the Pope it’s not the same.”
 
Bellemare has set up a web site (www.pape2008.com) so people can sign an electronic version. In less than a week, more than 4,000 had done so.

Businesses in Quebec are also supporting the petition by encouraging their customers to sign hard copies. They include the Normandin restaurants, Boston Pizza, Tanguary Furniture outlets and George Morisett’s physiotherapy clinics.
 
“He must come,” said Bellemare. “For all the Catholics of the world it is important for him to come here A lot of celebrities will be here in 2008. We need the Pope.”

Bellemare has also been successful in getting a hard copy of his petition into Quebec City Hall, so citizens can sign it when they are there on other business.

More than a dozen Internet “blogs” or online journals raised awareness of the petition in co-ordinated “blogburst” Nov. 7, featuring links to the petition web site and pictures of the Pope.

Blogger Suzanne Fortin, an Ottawa-based pro-life activist, organized the online campaign.  She urged people to download the petition and bring hard copies to their parishes.  

According to the Vatican press office, however, there are no plans for a papal visit to Quebec next year. Press office director Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi told Catholic News Service Nov. 7: “As I have already said several times, the plans for (papal travel) next year are: to the United States for a visit to the United Nations in April; to Sydney, Australia, for World Youth Day in July; and to Lourdes,” France, in the fall for the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there.

“I have not seen any plans for a visit to Quebec,” he said.

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