Cardinal Lacroix: Christians 'need to be invited back to Christ'

2014-02-22 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The newest cardinal to hail from Canada shares his love for Christ and the Gospel, and the life that both bring, with zeal and joy.

“I’m very involved in the New Evangelization,” said Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix. “That’s what makes my heart tick: to share the Gospel of the Lord and to bring people to encounter Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and bringing people to him is my life.”

The archbishop of Quebec received his red hat from Pope Francis on Saturday, along with 18 other bishops in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. At 56 years old, he is the second-youngest cardinal in this most recent consistory, after 55-year-old Cardinal Chibly Langlois of Haiti.

As a member of the College of Cardinals, he says he hopes to contribute all he can from his diverse pastoral experience as an archbishop in a secularized society.

“My experience has been with the people,” said Cardinal Lacroix, who served as a missionary in South America for nine years, before returning to Quebec. Though born in Canada, his family moved to the United States while he was still a boy. He lived there for 11 years before returning to Quebec at the age of 19. In 1975, he entered the Pius X Secular Institute and was ordained a priest in 1988.

DISCOVER THE GOSPEL
Speaking on the needs of the Church in North America, the archbishop of Quebec said people on the continent “need to be invited back to Jesus Christ and to discover the Gospel”.

“Many people think we need to re-structure the Church… but the biggest change has to come in my heart and in yours,” he said. Once Christians have rediscovered this fundamental relationship with Jesus, “then we will know what to restructure in the Church and what needs to be renewed,” he added.

“It’s the mission that comes first,” he continued. “We often say the Church has a mission. But I think we could also say, the mission has a Church.

“We need to be close to the poor, to those who suffer, to those who feel excluded, outcast in the Church. That needs to be done not by preaching but by our way of living, our attitudes, the way we welcome people, the way we walk with people to help them grow, to help them discover that they’re lovable,” he said.

The cardinal shared his view that the world would change for the better if practicing Catholics would really witness to Christ in the world. “But we’re waiting. We’re all like on pause, waiting for somebody to change the world,” he said. “We need to help our people to become better disciples and better missionaries.”

THE 'FRANCIS PHENOMENON'
Cardinal Lacroix also witnessed to the impact the pontificate of Pope Francis is having in Quebec, a society where only about 5 per cent of the Catholic population attends church regularly.

“We’re talking about the Francis phenomenon!” he exclaimed laughing. “Many people come up to me and tell me in a spontaneous way how they love the Pope and how his way of being, his humility, his sense of poverty, his way of life speak so loudly…So many people are re-considering Christianity and the Church.”

He recounted how people of other Christian denominations identify with the Pope, and how non-believers are also impressed by Francis. “Love, authenticity always has an impact.”

EUTHANASIA: NEVER MORAL
He concluded by commenting on the Quebec government’s proposed legislation to legalize euthanasia, Bill 52.

“We’ve done a lot to explain to our people how this (bill) is a road to the civilization of death. How this is a wrong choice for society,” he said. “We’ve written to all the deputies and the ministers, and we’ve spoken publicly and in private everywhere we could to say, ‘Let’s not go there. Don’t open the door to euthanasia because you can’t close it after.’”

“And you know, even if this is voted and accepted by the government and it becomes legal, it will never be moral,” he stated emphatically.

Listen to the full interview with Cardinal Gérald Cyprien Lacroix:
Report and interview by Laura Ieraci