Ouellet hopes congress will revive Christian roots

  • August 16, 2007

{mosimage}MONTREAL - Cardinal Marc Ouellet hopes the 2008 Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City next June will revive Canada’s Christian roots and reverse the effects of secularization.

“I believe the Lord of history is inviting us to bear witness to His love and to challenge the forces of dissolution that are challenging our culture,” said Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the church in Canada, told the 600 delegates at the national convention of the Catholic Women’s League (CWL) Aug. 13.

“This congress is a grace for our country,” he said, pointing to the need to recover the depth and beauty of the church’s mission and to deepen the Gospel vision of a culture of love.

The congress, set for June 15-22, will coincide with the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec City. Quebec is also Canada’s oldest diocese, through which missionaries went on to evangelize the whole continent. Ouellet said he hopes the Congress will “give new life to the consciousness of the Christian roots of our country.”

{sidebar id=2}“We’ve been blessed from the beginning with the gift of saints. Fourteen have been beatified or canonized in the last 40 years,” he said. “Not many countries have so wonderful a story to tell the whole world.”

Ouellet spoke as well of “great efforts” to involve youth, describing it as a “big challenge, especially in Canada, for handing on the faith and also religious practices and devotions to the next generation.”  Three youth summits have been held so far. The first generated the idea of the Ark of the New Covenant, which is travelling throughout Canada in advance of the congress.

Ouellet hopes the congress will not only transform Canada, but also will have an impact on the whole world.

The time has come to overturn the dominance of what Pope John Paul II called the culture of death, he said. Instead of a globalization of alienation and injustice, he said he hopes to see the globalization of charity, solidarity and of the “unity of mankind in Jesus Christ.”

Ouellet referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s March 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, which he said “bears the unifying mark of the Holy Father’s vision” of the Eucharist as the “source and summit of the church’s life,” a “mystery to be believed, a mystery to be celebrated and a mystery to be lived.” He pointed out the “affinity” the Pope’s document has with the theme of the congress: the Gift of God for the Life of the World.

Ouellet said he has observed “signs from God” of indicating a time for eucharistic renewal. One of those signs came through nine-year old Jeremy Gabriel, who “spent half his life in hospital” for operations to correct the effects of Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare genetic disease. Though deaf, with the help of an implant, he can hear well enough to sing beautifully.

Ouellet described how in October 2005, Jeremy sang the national anthem at a Montreal Canadiens game. He caused a media sensation, and when journalists asked him what he wished for, Jeremy said he wanted to sing before the Pope as a way of saying thank you to Jesus who had helped him very much in his suffering.

Ouellet arranged for Jeremy and his family to join the Quebec bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome in May 2006. Jeremy and his family were present when the Pope blessed the Ark of the New Covenant. At that ceremony, Jeremy’s wish came true and he sang before the Pope.

Ouellet said he will never forget how moving it was to hear the boy sing “I will praise the eternal with all of my heart.”

“There were no dry eyes,” he said, noting that even the Swiss Guards were moved and spontaneously offered the boy a medal.

The congress will conclude with a universal call to holiness, with special focus on the calls to married life and to consecrated life, what Ouellet described as “two key ways of building a civilization of love for the Eucharist.”

“The city will be transformed,” he said.

Ouellet said that each Eucharistic Congress will tell the world that “to be Catholic is something,” and that “we can affirm our faith publicly with great humility and refrain from the tendency to hide and not affirm our values.”

“We have a wonderful story of holiness to tell the whole world.”

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