A long and touching standing ovation, which brought a smile to the face of the head of the Catholic Church, greeted his speech to the pastors of the Church in Canada, on the fifth day of his trip to the country. Pope Francis met with some 700 Canadian bishops, clergy and consecrated religious on July 28, with whom he celebrated Vespers in Quebec City’s Notre Dame Cathedral.
In the place where the country’s first bishop, St. François de Laval (1623-1708), set out on his mission, the Pope met with a community that warmly welcomed him, happy to surround the successor of Peter. A community weakened by the scandals surrounding residential schools for natives, reparations for sexual abuse, and trying to survive in an increasingly secularized society, where the Church is sometimes in a tug of war with the government over social laws that oppose its moral doctrine. Thus, in recent years, the Canadian bishops have expressed their concern on numerous occasions about euthanasia.
Pope encourages Canadian Church leaders
To the pastors of the Church in Canada, the Pope offered encouragement, inviting them “not to remain prisoners of pessimism and bitterness,” nor to indulge in “negative judgments or useless nostalgia,” and even less in a “crusading spirit.” He recommended not a “negative look”, but rather a “look of discernment.” “The Lord, who hates worldliness, has a good look at the world. He blesses our life, he speaks well of us and our reality,” he added.
His speech was warmly applauded by the congregation, which rose from the pews with enthusiasm. It was like a response from the congregation encouraging the 85-year-old pontiff who had come to see them in a wheelchair. He himself wore a happy and moved face. On his arrival, he had made a point of going up the central aisle for a crowd bath, rushing the planned program to be as close as possible to the priests and consecrated persons, whose veils of various colors stood out in the ranks.
At the end of the meeting, after a time of recollection before the remains of St. Francis of Laval, the Pope greeted each of the bishops present, who crowded around him, shaking his hands with affection and exchanging a few words.
This was his last meeting with the Church in Quebec. On July 29, the Pope will travel to the Arctic Territory, to Iqaluit, to visit the Inuit, the last stage of his pilgrimage of reconciliation for the Aboriginal peoples.