By PAUL LIKOUDIS
Canada’s newest cardinal, Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, was born in a small village in southern Quebec near the Maine border, grew up in New Hampshire where his family moved when he was eight, has eight years’ experience working as a missionary in South America, and is committed to re-evangelizing La Belle Province.
As Canada’s national newspaper The Globe & Mail reported January 12: “Since the Quiet Revolution, Quebeckers have turned their backs on their Catholic roots in what Archbishop Lacroix has coined a ‘tsunami of secularization.’ He has made it his mission to evangelize Quebeckers so that the once-deeply religious province can find its lost faith.
“That endeavor has resonated with Pope Francis.
“At Archbishop Lacroix’s first meeting at the Vatican last June, Pope Francis told him twice he needed to ‘pick up Quebec,’ Gerald Lacroix recounted in an interview with the newspaper Le Soleil the following week. . . .
“As a priest, Archbishop Lacroix worked for eight years in Colombia and is fluent in Spanish, the language in which he converses with Pope Francis. . . .
“At 56 years old, Gerald Lacroix will become the third youngest cardinal. His appointment came without any prior warning, catching him and the Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec off-guard. . . .
“Archbishop Lacroix was born on a small dairy farm 186 miles east of Montreal. His parents worked extremely hard, but couldn’t make ends meet, so the family moved to New Hampshire in search of a better life when Gerald was eight years old, his uncle Jerome recalled. Archbishop Lacroix came back to Quebec City for a summer job at 19, and never returned to the United States.
“Archbishop Lacroix worked at a printer and in restaurants. He went on to complete his baccalaureate and his master’s in theology at Laval University, and was ordained in 1988. He decided to become a priest while working as a lay missionary in Colombia,” continued The Globe & Mail.
The selection of Archbishop Lacroix by Pope Francis “epitomizes the Pope’s dual approach: affirming orthodoxy but also reaching out to the poor,” wrote Michael Coren for Canada’s Sun chain of newspapers January 12.
“It’s a consistently Catholic position but one that is not always understood by commentators outside of the Church and especially those who like the Church at its least Catholic.”
Lacroix, wrote Coren, is “multilingual, experienced, and highly competent, he’s also profoundly orthodox and his appointment will provide little comfort to those who fantasized that this papacy was about to liberalize the Church.
“He said in an interview in Quebec City last November,” continued Coren, “that the Catholic message must not be softened and that trying to make the faith ‘easier’ or pretending that ‘you don’t have to convert completely’ is not ‘what will attract people.’
“He continued, ‘Our mission must be to preach the truth of the Gospel, and the full message of the Gospel. The rest does not belong to us. Some will convert and will follow Christ; others will reject us and persecute us for being different.’
“He has also made it known,” Coren continued, “that two generation of aggressive secularism in Quebec must be confronted. Speaking of Quebec’s abandoning of the Church, Lacroix replied, ‘We have to find again our roots of faith, rise again as Christians, and find once again the Gospels in our lives.’
“He attends Canada’s national March for Life in Ottawa and is regarded as one of the most outspoken and eloquent defenders not only of the unborn but also of the pro-life community in Canada. This is the personification of the new, bold, determined, and faithful Catholic Church in Quebec, and for that matter in Canada. . . .
“Sorry mainstream media and the anti-Catholic brigade,” Coren concluded, “the Church is not about fashion or changing with the times but spreading the Gospel and holding up a mirror to the world’s failures and falls — a reflection that can cause a little anguish from New York to Toronto to Rome to Quebec City.”