Fr. Raymond de Souza, writing for Canada's Catholic Register, reports on how the latest appointment fits into the bigger picture:
How do you reform an episcopate and provide new leadership for the Church in a particular nation? Canada is now the model for the Church universal on how it can be done.The safe way to appoint bishops is to select archbishops from long-serving bishops, and bishops from long-serving auxiliaries, and auxiliaries from long-serving officials in chancery offices. Ouellet, sensing that a new direction was needed for the Church in Quebec, did not advise the Holy Father to take the safe option. Consider the following:
The dramatic appointment of Christian Lépine as the new archbishop of Montreal, only six months after he was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the same diocese, has drawn attention to Canada as the exemplar of how an episcopate can be reconfigured for the challenges of the new evangelization.
Just 18 months ago, in the fall of 2010, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former archbishop of Quebec City, arrived in Rome as the new prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. The prefect is the most senior advisor to the Holy Father on the appointment of bishops. High on the new prefect’s agenda was the renewal of the bishops of Quebec, with a number of retirements pending.
In February 2011, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Gerald Lacroix the new archbishop of Quebec City, succeeding Ouellet. Lacroix had only been an auxiliary bishop of Quebec City for less than two years.
• In July 2011, Thomas Dowd was announced as an auxiliary bishop of Montreal, to be ordained at the same time as Lépine. Dowd was 40 at the time — an almost unprecedented age to be made a bishop in Canada.
• In October 2011, Bishop Paul-André Durocher of Cornwall, Ont., was appointed archbishop of Gatineau. Originally from Timmins, the Holy See reached outside the circle of the Quebec clergy to appoint an Ontario francophone to a Quebec archbishopric.
• Last month, Bishop Paul Lortie was named bishop of Mont-Laurier. He had previously been an auxiliary bishop of Quebec City, ordained by Ouellet himself less than three years ago.
• Also last month, the Holy See reached outside Quebec for a second time, appointing Bishop Luc Bouchard as chief shepherd of Trois-Rivieres. A priest of Cornwall, he had been bishop of St. Paul in Alberta for 10 years.
Young bishops, novice bishops, bishops from outside of Quebec — all this is a significant departure from the norm. Ouellet evidently decided that the norm in Quebec needed changing, and so has advised the Holy Father to change it — emphatically... CONTINUED