VISIT TO THE CATHEDRAL

MONTREAL, QUEBEC

SEPTEMBER 10, 1984

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

I am touched to begin my pilgrimage in Montreal, in this basilica-cathedral, Mary Queen of the World. Its plan is very similar to that of Saint Peter's basilica in Rome. His Excellency Ignace Bourget, the second bishop of Montreal, in the latter part of the last century, wanted to symbolize in this way the close ties between the Church in Canada and the Holy See. It is significant too that it was dedicated to Mary, under the title of Queen of the World.

 

Like all other cathedrals it is the centre and symbol of the whole archdiocese. It is with much pleasure that I greet the Archbishop, His Grace Paul Grégroire [sp]. I thank him most warmly for his welcome and for the words he spoke, words that show how close his Christian people are to his pastoral concern. I greet too his predecessor, my venerable brother Cardinal Paul-Emile Leger. Everyone knows the witness of love that he carried to Africa. I greet Archbishop Grégoire's auxiliary bishops and all other bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Montreal and of the region. I am equally happy to see here the Cathedral chapter and the representatives of the presbyterium, of religious men and women and of the laity. I respectfully greet the Mayor of Montreal and all the civil authorities who have contributed to the organization of my stay with that sense of hospitality and efficiency for which they are so deservedly renowned.

 

After Quebec it was only natural that I should come to this great metropolis, remarkable for its size and for the high proportion and dynamic quality of its French-speaking population. This of course is characteristic of the province of Quebec. In Montreal English-speaking groups too have their own place and more than twenty-five ethnic communities are recognized and heard. Because of its position and the spirit of initiative of its people and of its authorities it has enjoyed unmatched development and a well deserved international stature. In addition, over the last few decades, a number of large scale cultural events have attracted the attention of the entire world to it.

 

Thinking of such a development it is all the more moving to remind oneself of its origins, both modest and extraordinary: the village of Hochelaga; the hill called Mont-Réal in the days of Jacques Cartier; the initiative of the pioneers who were to found Ville-Marie on the Island of Montreal with Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance; the apostolate of Marguerite Bourgeoys, the "Mother of the colony"; and how many other devout Christian men and women, who gave this city its soul!

 

The city spread, was transformed, became modern. But God still has his place here. Rising in the heart of the city as it does, the cathedral bears witness to this. Yes, this land is holy because God dwells in it; his mystery remains as a light, as a call, as a force in the heart of every human person who remains open to his will as Sister Marie-Leonie did, whom tomorrow we shall proclaim "blessed". A reflection of the presence of the Lord can be found in the heart of every activity that seeks to make the city more consonant with human dignity. God became man in Jesus Christ so that each and every human person might be imbued with the light and the love of God.

 

It is this grace that we ask through Mary, in this cathedral which honours her name. She gave us Christ and she continues to open his way for us. If she reigns with him in heaven, sharing in his resurrection, it is in order to continue to serve mankind in search for happiness, in search for true freedom and real progress, in search for love, truth and holiness.

 

Salve Regina!

 

Hail, our Queen!

 

(The Salve Regina is then sung)

 

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Conférence des évêques catholiques du Canada