Cardinal Ouellet and the Catholic renewal in Quebec
Marc Cardinal Ouellet has launched a real renewal in the Catholic church of Quebec since his inauguration as archbishop of Quebec City and primate of the church in Canada. Right from the beginning, at his inaugural sermon in January 2003, he called Quebecers to conversion, to come back to the faith of their fathers or, he warned, they will die as a nation. In the following months, he was faithful to this strong beginning. Archbishop Ouellet has never refused to answer the media and to defend the Catholic faith and morality publicly with intelligence, zeal and wisdom. As early as the fall of 2003, Pope John Paul II did not hesitate to give to this faithful servant of God the cardinal’s hat, whereas his predecessor, Archbishop Maurice Couture, did not receive this honour in his more than 10 years as archbishop of Quebec City. That was a very clear sign of appreciation for his labour, from the Roman pontiff and the Roman Curia.
Cardinal Ouellet is involved in the conversion of the Catholic church of Quebec herself, but he is also active in the conversion of Quebec society at large. He is not only a defensor fidei, defender of the faith, but also a defensor civitatis, defender of the city. He was not afraid to denounce the terrible abortion rate in Quebec, and also the late-term abortions that will lead Quebec to death. He celebrated a pro-life Mass last September to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the right to life movement in his diocese. He delivered a stirring sermon asking for a renewal of the political class in Quebec, so that Quebec’s children may be protected by the law and that life may prevail finally in that province.
He also took a very firm position against same-sex “marriage” and published an open letter about this issue in the major newspapers of Quebec on Jan. 22, entitled, “Marriage and Society: For a Free and Enlightened Vote in Parliament.” Cardinal Ouellet stated that, “As a Canadian citizen and as primate of Canada, I feel it is my duty to express my concern and disagreement” with the same-sex “marriage” bill introduced by the Liberal government. He pointed out that the bill “is offensive to the moral and religious sensibility of a great number of citizens, both Catholic and non-Catholic” and that it “threatens to unleash nothing less than a cultural upheaval, whose negative consequences are still impossible to predict.” In a television interview with RDI (the equivalent of CBC Newsworld in French) on Dec. 9, 2004, he insisted he was speaking for the common good of the whole Canadian society, not only for the folkloric interests of Roman Catholics.
For his courageous positions, he was attacked by all kinds of Liberals in Quebec. First, some journalists of the main newspapers in Quebec City, who fear a renewal in the local church, insulted Cardinal Ouellet for being an integralist and a homophobe. Jean-Simon Gagné, columnist of Le Soleil, was particularly vicious, by establishing a link between Cardinal Ouellet and the Quebec church of the Duplessis era. Senator Serge Joyal then sent him an open letter on same-sex “marriage,” that was published in La Presse on Feb. 14. Senator Joyal proclaimed there are two separate value systems, civil and religious, and that Cardinal Ouellet should respect this separation and accept civil gay “marriage.” Cardinal Ouellet answered this letter on Feb. 18 by pointing out that both “value systems” must respect the natural law and that gay “marriage” does not respect the natural law. That is why he is opposed to gay “marriage,” even from a lay and civil perspective.
More recently, a bunch of Quebec left-wing “Catholics” published an open letter in Le Devoir on Feb. 25, directly attacking Cardinal Ouellet. In this aggressive manifesto, they stated that Cardinal Ouellet was just defending the positions of the most reactionary groups of Quebec and that he was transforming the church of Quebec into a right-wing lobby group. They were especially angry with Cardinal Ouellet’s fight against same-sex “marriage,” but they were also against his constant defence of the teaching of Christian doctrine in the public schools of Quebec, his opposition to general absolution and his negative judgement about the recent evolution of Quebec society toward the culture of death.
It is significant that these apostles of Quebec apostasy do not attack the church in Quebec as a whole, but specifically Cardinal Ouellet. They see that this energetic disciple of Jesus Christ and John Paul II is a threat to the liberal consensus in Quebec. That is a good sign for the Catholics of Quebec and, in fact, a source of hope for the whole of Quebec society.