Montreal may have been bypassed for appointment of a new Roman Catholic cardinal because Jean-Claude Turcotte remains eligible to vote in the College of Cardinals even though he retired two years ago.
Gérald Cyprian Lacroix will become the ninth Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec City – and one of three Canadian cardinals - when he is formally installed as a prince of the church in Rome on Feb 22. Lacroix was given the red hat rather than Montreal Archbishop Christian Lepine, 62. The two men were appointed archbishops within a year of each other in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Lacroix, 56, was one of 19 bishops elevated to the College of Cardinals by Pope Francis on Jan 4. Lacroix’ s appointment reinforces his position as Primate of Canada. Since 1886, Quebec City has never been without a cardinal or a cardinal emeritus - except for the past two years.
Lacroix was likely chosen, at least in part, because Montreal still has a voting cardinal in Turcotte, said Auxilliary Bishop Thomas Dowd. Turcotte, 77, retired in 2012.
“The Vatican doesn’t like having two voting cardinals in the same city at the same time,” Dowd says. “Since Cardinal Marc Ouelett is staying in Rome and is no longer considered a representative of Canada, he has paved the way for his successor.”
Lacroix comes from the Beauce community of Saint-Hilaire de Dorset near the Maine border where his uncle, Jerome, was until recently mayor. He was named Quebec's archbishop when Ouellet was sent to Rome to become Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.
Lacroix was as ordained in 1988 and spent more than a decade in Colombia before returning to Canada.
Archbishop Lepine says the appointment represents something hopeful for the Church because Lacroix, like many of the other new cardinals, has experience working in the Third World with the poor, speaks Spanish fluently, and “is in tune with the Pope.”
When Archbishop Lacroix met with the Pope last summer, Francis instructed him to “pick up Quebec,” according to published reports.
In a tweet after his elevation was announced, Archbishop Lacroix indicated he is media savvy: ”Very Big responsibility. Very happy to continue to serve the church with Francis. I am touched by the trust the Holy Father has put in me.”
Archbishop Lacroix has spoken out strongly against the Quebec Charter of Values.
“Those who choose to believe should be able to do so in all liberty in private and in public. The same goes for those who choose not to believe. Those who choose not to believe should not be harassed,” he has said.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called the appointment a tremendous honor for Lacroix and for Canada's Roman Catholics.
“On behalf of our government, I offer my congratulations to Cardinal-designate Lacroix as he begins this new phase of his ministry,” Harper said in a statement.
The cardinals chosen by Pope Francis come from Asia, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere, including the Caribbean and the developing nations of Haiti and Burkina Faso, in line with his belief that the church must pay more attention to the poor.
Lacroix will join Turcotte of Montreal and Thomas Collins of Toronto as Canadians in the College of Cardinals.
Primates of Canada, Elzear Alexandre Taschereau, 1871-1898, Louis Nazaire Begin, 1898-1925, Paul Eugene Roy, 1925-25, Felix Raymond Marie Rouleau, 1926-1931, Jean-Marie Villeneuve, 1931-1947, Maurice Roy, 1947-81, Louis Albert Vachon, 1981-2006 , Marc Ouellet, 2002-2010, Gérald Lacroix, 2014.