Pope Benedict won’t attend Quebec’s 400th anniversary and Eucharistic Congress

This just in from the Vancouver Sun:

Pope Benedict won’t attend Quebec’s 400th celebrations
Canwest News Service

Thursday, January 17, 2008

QUEBEC – Pope Benedict XVI will not come to Quebec City this summer for the 400th anniversary celebrations, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec said Thursday.

Marc Cardinal Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec and primate of the church in Canada, has been lobbying for weeks for the pontiff to attend the International Eucharistic Congress slated for June, one of the biggest events of the city’s 400th birthday bash.

But Ouellet said in a brief press release that the Pope has chosen to send a representative to the congress that will bring together some 15,000 delegates and 50 cardinals from 60 countries.

A group of Quebec citizens had also launched a petition to encourage the Pope to attend the event that will culminate with a giant outdoor mass on the historic Plains of Abraham.


Too bad.

However, I understand the desire of the 80 year old Pontiff to be prudent.

I would like to have seen Pope Benedict XVI place Card. Ouellet, whom I know a little, more in the world spotlight.

I wonder if part of the reason that the Holy Father might not be going is that there is a new head of the Holy See’s office for Eucharistic Congresses, and that that new head might have something to say about the Mass in Quebec?

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  1. John Miller says:

    It means only one person: H.E. Archbishop Piero Marini, will be sent in the Holy Father’s place. It will be the first exercise in his new role.

  2. Jonathan Bennett says:

    That is unfortunate. I live in Ottawa and certainly would have gone if His Holiness was attending, but I dont think I\’ll make the trip to see Archbishop Piero Marini.

    The Church in Canada is falling to pieces. Perhaps the presence of His Holiness would have helped the situation.

  3. Timothy James says:

    Yes as a Canadian I was really hoping he would come, the Church here needs him so badly. I will still be making the trip though. Im hoping and praying that Cardinal Ouellet will have more influence on the events, (especially the Liturgies,) than Ab Piero Marini. Will you be there Fr. Z?

  4. Paul says:

    It’s too bad the Holy Father won’t be going. I would have definitely planned to attend if he had agreed to come.

    I wonder what Mr. Bennett means by saying that the Church here is “falling to pieces”. From Kingston, Ontario, everything looks fine…

  5. Dob says:

    There’s only so much tie-dye a man can take.

  6. Berolinensis says:

    With all due respect, I think the idea that tho Holy Father doesn’t go to Quebec because of Abp. Marini is a bit OTT. He will make three international trips this year, Lourdes, the US, and Sydney for WYD. The last too are intercontinental long-distance flights too different time-zones, which for a 81-year-old are very exacting. Last year he only went to Brazil and Austria. It is obvious that Abp. Marini is liturgically opposed to the Holy Father’s vision. But it is not like the Holy Father to shun him for this reason. If the pope had that strong a reaction against Abp. Marini, he certainly wouldn’t have kept him for over two years.

    Also, the Papal Legate is always a Cardinal. So it won’t be Abp. Marini. That wouldn’t make sense anyway, because he will be there already due to his office (although I admit, it did happen at Guadalajara, but I think for the very first time; I take it to be a one-off). Also, while I understand that one would love the Holy Father to come visit, the Pope so far has NEVER presided over a Eucharistic Congress outside Rome, but always sent a legate. Lastly, emotionally it may not be the same, but the Cardinal sent to a Eucharistic Congree is usually a legatus a latere, and remember that in a Papal Legate a latere, the very person of the Pope is present, beacause that legate is the Pope’s alter ego (Can. 358).

    As for Card. Ouellet: The pope has already been placed in the world spotlight. Last saturday, he was named General Relator for the 12th General Assembly of the World Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome in October, see

  7. Diane K says:

    If I had a Eucharistic Congress taking place in metro Detroit, I would go regardless of who the Pope sent.

    The Vatican representative is not the central focus. Rather, it is the Eucharist.

    I know things are bad in Canada. However, I would encourage my Canadian brothers and sisters to support this event out of love for the Eucharist.

    If it is not to a standard that you deem worthy of the Eucharist, offer that pain up as a sacrifice and make your prayer there, one of reparation.

    In the meanwhile, begin daily prayer and Adoration, if only in your heart, that Mass will be respectable, and the Eucharistic Congress a success.

    Be patient. Have hope. Have faith. Holy Mother Church does not often turn on a dime. The fact that a Eucharistic Congress is taking place at all is a start.

  8. Berolinensis says:

    Correction: the last paragraph of my comment should of course begin: “As for Card. Ouellet: The pope has already placed him in the world spotlight.”

  9. Anon says:

    The reason may also be for security purposes

  10. Matthew Mattingly says:

    I think the Pope has had a strong reaction against Archbishop Marini. If He (Marini) were in good graces, I think the Pope would go to Canada. We all know that Archbishop Marini is against the Pope in general…but especially with regards to the liturgy. So in that light, I think it will make alot of people happy to learn that Archbishop Marini’s USA tour to speak about his book on the “Vatican II Liturgy and the Reform”, has been cancelled….indefintly. There are rumors it was called off under very strong pressure from the Vatican (Cardinal Bertone and Benedict XVI). They know that during these tours (like the one in England), Marini has been speaking out (even if only in innuendo), against the Tridentine Latin Mass and the Motu Proprio of Benedict XVI allowing a return to the Tridentine Latin Mass. He has been whipping up anti-Tridentine latin Mass sentiment among small pockets of dissidents that think like Him and his late Maestro….Bugnini. He has been praising John Paul II, and making sublte insulting innuendos about Benedict XVI.
    Good thing Benedict XVI isn’t going to Canada…..it would be giving his blessing and stamp of approval on all the liturgical nonsense I’m sure Marini is concoccting for the occasion.

  11. Henry Edwards says:

    As I recall, Eucharistic congresses are not generally televised world-wide. But this one surely would be if Pope Benedict were in attendance. Is this something to take into account?

  12. EJ says:

    I would caution anyone against running all over with unsubstantiated rumors. We don’t know why His Holiness will not attend. It could very well be, though, simply because he said from the beginning of his pontificate that he did not intend to travel nearly as much as John Paul II did. He will already be travelling to the US in April, and Australia in July – perhaps he thought going to Quebec in June was just too much to fit in. I agree that it’s a shame though. I think that with the Pope not attending, however, and given Archbishop Marini’s track record of innovation and creativity – AND given also the fact that he was once at the helm of the office of papal liturgical celebrations – I fear that he might feel he would have license over the planning of the celebrations that would take place – this would seem inevitable and for him almost irresistable, like a kid in a candy store. Just look at the liberties he’s taken with his book tour.. what ego! I’m relieved that, for whatever reason, it has been brought to a halt, it was getting really inappropriate and perhaps it would have gotten unacceptable had it continued here in the US. Promoting Marini to where he was promoted is akin to John Paul II’s decision to give Karl Lehman the red hat in 2001. Perhaps these were the gestures of two truly humble pontiffs and gentlemen, and they are simply too difficult for us to understand. I do seriously hope that the Holy Father would be moved to reconsider his decision to not attend.

  13. Berolinensis: the Pope so far has NEVER presided over a Eucharistic Congress outside Rome, but always sent a legate.

    I don’t think that is quite right. If memory serves, at least once a Pope did so. I recall that John Paul II went to Seoul for a Eucharistic Congress. I remember his departure very clearly.

    As a matter of fact, I have a funny story about that.

    In those days, even as a seminarian I was already working the offices of the P.C. Ecclesia Dei, which are in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio, where the CDF is. On the day the Holy Father was to depart for Korea, I left the office for the midday break at precisely the same moment that Card. Ratzinger and his secretary Msgr. (now Bishop) Josef Clemens were walking out. There were big crowds outside the main arch of the palazzo, which in those days was the main entrance, so we stopped a moment to chat rather than just go out. We new it was for he Pope’s departure and the street would be blocked for us anyway. We were basically stuck there until the Pope left. After a bit of banter, Card. Ratzinger said “Let’s go see!”, and promptly grabbed my elbow and started through the arch into the crowds to the barricade set up along the piazza. It was blazing hot and bright with sun.

    When the Pope departed by car from the Vatican City, he would leave by the gate that leads up to the Paul VI Hall next to the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio. Packs of police with motorcycles for the escort blocked the street leading around the colonnade. We could tell the Holy Father’s car was coming when the radios on the motorcycles started their chatter and the officers revved their engines.

    And so out came the Pope’s car, very slowly. The crowds were dense and everyone was cheering and shouting “Viva il Papa!” and the various other chants popular during his reign. There we were at the barricade, I between the Cardinal and Msgr. Clemens. As the Pope’s care crawled along the barricade, I saw the Pope’s window in the back was down and he was making slight waving gestures to the crowds along with signs of the Cross in benediction. As he drew near the Cardinal and Clemens also also began to shout “Viva il Papa!” and wave together with the crowds.

    As the Pope’s car drew up, you could see the poor man was rather tired and less than enthusiastic about the crowd. However, when he saw Card. Ratzinger, he sat bolt upright and leaned into the window and started to wave at him with some energy. In his turn, the Cardinal cheerfully traced the sign of the Cross in the Pope’s direction and the Holy Father fell back into his seat chuckling.

    A little glimpse of a Roman day, many years ago.

  14. Matthew: We all know that Archbishop Marini is against the Pope in general…but especially with regards to the liturgy.

    I think we know that Archbp. Marini is against the Holy Father’s liturgical vision, but definitely do not know that Marini is “against the Pope in general”.

  15. TNCath says:

    Great story, Fr. Z. It’s always great to hear those wonderful anecdotes about our hierachy.

  16. TNCath says:

    Matthew: Although I have absolutely no evidence to support this, I have a feeling that whatever Archbishop Marini is planning for the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec is going to have to be approved by “somebody” in the Vatican before it happens. In light of the recent cancellation of Archbishop Marini’s book tour, I suspect His Excellency is on a “short leash” in the hands of Cardinal Bertone.

  17. EJ says:

    TN – good point!

  18. Berolinensis says:


    thanks for that anecdote. And you’re right about Pope John Paul, I think he went to Seville, too, and maybe to more places. However, not to split hairs, but I did say the Pope never presided outside Rome. And that is true. In Seoul, the president was the Papal Legate Card. Etchegaray. See http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pont_committees/eucharist-congr/documents/rc_committ_euchar_doc_20021009_themes_en.html

    I still think the two extended trips to the US and Australia are perfectly sufficient to explain why the Pope didn’t go.

  19. Bill says:

    While the Pope may have attended nearly all the Eucharistic Congresses, he only personally presided over the one in 2000 in Rome. For all the others, he sent legates, according to this.


  20. TonyM says:

    This is strange, and unfortunate. It just is not polite nor good form for the Pope to turn down an “invitation” from thousands of the faithf
    ful. I put “invitation” in quotation marks because it seemed this was only a formality and it seemed unthinkable the Pope would turn it down. The Church in Canada, and in Quebec in particular, is in bad, bad shape. I wonder if he has given up on the Church in the Great White North.

  21. David says:

    “This is strange, and unfortunate. It just is not polite nor good form for the Pope to turn down an “invitation” from thousands of the faithful”


    What was that about “not polite nor good form?”

  22. TNCath says:

    Give the man a break! It’s amazing the Pope is able to do as much as he does! Three trans-oceanic trips in four months is simply too much. Besides, I’m sure there will be a significant representation of Canadians present for the U.S. visit, which I’m sure has been taken into account as well. I do not think he has “given up” on the Church in Quebec nor more than he has given up on any part of the Church. I think it’s a matter of time, distance, and, quite frankly, the physical limitations of a soon-to-be 81 year old man.

  23. Patricia Gonzalez says:

    I certainly with that the Holy father would be coming to Quebec this summer — I live in Montreal, and definitely would have gone if Papa Ratzi were to attend. However, I realize that he is 80, even though in great shape, God bless him. I call him the Energizer Bunny of Popes (with all due respect, of course), because he just … keeps on going! I think as TN Cath says it is indeed a matter of time, distance, the Pope’s age, etc. I hope that he will be able to visit us in the next few years, because as others have pointed out, we desperately need him. The Church in Quebec is in crisis, and very few people seem aware of that. Papa Benedetto’s presence would be a terrific morale booster!

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