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Imitate zeal of early Christians.

Canadian Cardinal Edouard Gagnon, 83, formerly president of the Pontifical Council of the Family in Rome, gave the opening address at The Wanderer forum held in Louisville, Kentucky, in August 2001. His theme: the reChristianization of North America. Paul Likoudis of The Wanderer, Aug. 23, 2001, reports as follows:

The Cardinal exhorted his audience to follow the example of the Holy Father, learning from the way he conducts his ministry "with a sense of duty to continue the mission of Christ and the Apostles." He addressed the urgency of the task.


On May 30, he noted, the French legislature on the Feast of St. Joan of Arc -- "by sinister coincidence" -- advanced the time when a French woman may abort her child, and at the same time legislated that girls under the age of 16 can obtain abortions without parental consent.

The program of evil pursued by France's socialist government, he added, was further illustrated by companion laws which deprive French doctors of a "conscience clause" concerning abortion. There are also new laws which punish pro-lifers with indeterminate jail sentences if they employ any "moral or psychological pressure" against those seeking abortion.

The core belief of the Socialist Party in France, he said, "is that we have the right to lead our lives the way we choose, and to terminate the lives of those we do not choose."

On the same feast day, the French legislature also passed a law against sects, which makes it a criminal offence to "abuse a person in a state of dependence caused by techniques to alter his judgment." This law, Cardinal Gagnon informed his audience, has already been used by the state to remove a young girl from her parents' home because it contained a picture of the Sacred Heart, to which the girl objected. Practising Catholics, he warned, "will be deprived of their liberty."


In speaking of the duty of evangelization, the Cardinal bitter-sweetly commented that it was the people of his generation who had forgotten the basic fact that all are called to evangelize, not just bishops, priests, and religious.

He told how his mother when she went to school was taught three subjects: the catechism, good manners, and housekeeping. "When I went to school," he recalled, "we were never told of our duty to transmit the faith. We were told how ignorant our parents were. Today, after just two generations, the faith in Quebec is lost."


In his retirement, the Cardinal is spending himself in catechetical initiatives in Quebec, where the Church is rapidly losing its little remaining influence in society. Its schools, he said, are now "non-confessional -- which means anti-Catholic." The lack of vocations has led to the closing of many churches, and vast areas have no Masses but services presided over by nuns or laity. Polls show, he said, that French-Canadian Catholics lead the rest of Canada in accepting contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.

"People do not accept the teaching of the Magisterium," he said bluntly, "because they do not accept the teaching of Christ. They do not accept Christ as the voice of the Father, because Christ has never been presented or explained to them. Therefore they do not believe in the Eucharist."

To counter these negative trends, Cardinal Gagnon exhorted his hearers to take to heart Pope John Paul's Letter at the closing of the Jubilee Year (At the beginning of the new millennium) "to refresh ourselves on the word of God and prepare ourselves to take it to the world."

Catholics must revive the enthusiasm of the Apostles, he said, suggesting: "Imagine the obstacles they had. Surely, it cannot be more difficult for us." Catholics must take seriously Christ's command to the fishermen-apostles, "to put out into the deep."

Finally, Cardinal Gagnon spoke of the Holy Father's determination, describing him as a "herald of hope," who despite the serious problems facing the Church on all fronts and his own serious physical disabilities, maintains a rigorous schedule, even planning ahead to attend the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2004.

"Why does the Holy Father keep hope?" he asked. "Because he believes in the Presence of Christ among us.... The Pope is an optimist and enthusiastic," he said, "because he knows that God loves each person." The reason that this Holy Father has broken all the records of his predecessors in canonizing and beatifying so many priests, religious, and laity, he explained, is that he wants to put before Catholics model evangelizers, individuals who overcame tremendous obstacles, physical ailments, and often persecution, to catechize individuals who excelled in promoting "simple devotions," especially devotion to the passion of Christ, His Sacred Heart, and His Real Presence.

One of the great mysteries of our time, Gagnon noted, is that in a period of "such deterioration of faith and morals, there have never been so many efforts to establish perpetual adoration."
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Article Details
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Author:Likoudis, Paul
Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Nov 1, 2001
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