OTTAWA —Cardinal Marc Ouellet highlighted Pope Francis’ urgent message of the plight of refugees and migrants during a homily July 26 at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine not far from Quebec City.
“A father or mother worries about her child who is the most suffering or the most vulnerable,” said the former Cardinal Archbishop of Quebec, whose last public celebration of the Eucharist took place eight years ago at the same Shrine to the Patroness of Quebec. “Thus the Holy Father keeps drawing attention to these populations drifting from one continent to another and from one country to another, which are exposed to all the dangers and all the abuses.”
In 2010, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Ouellet to serve as Prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, one of the highest ranking posts in the Roman Curia. There he advises the Pope on appointments to the episcopacy and other areas concerning Church governance involving bishops.
Cardinal Ouellet noted Pope Francis’ visit in 2013 to the Island of Lampedusa to mourn the deaths of Africans who had drowned in the Mediterranean in the hands of ruthless traffickers; he mentioned Pope Francis’ visit to Bangladesh on behalf of the persecuted Rohingyas; and the Holy Father’s concern for the South American migrants headed to the United States to find families members who are already naturalized or threatened with deportation.
“Let us carry in prayer those migrants and refugees to whom we do not remain indifferent, despite the temptation to ignore them or repress them so as not to be disturbed in our peace and comfort,” the Cardinal said during the Mass celebrating the Feast of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of the Virgin Mary. “The family that welcomes us to this sanctuary, the Holy Family, of which Saint Anne is the grandmother, teaches us to take to heart the destiny of the great human family.”
“How can it be otherwise, since the Child God who has fallen to him transcends all boundaries of race, colour, culture and religion?” he said. “Jesus Christ brings to humanity, and first of all to the poorest, the good news of the hope of salvation. It involves in its mission its human family whose names have been honored for centuries on the banks of the great St. Lawrence River: St. Mary and St. Joseph, St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of Jesus who were waiting for the consolation of Israel.”
Cardinal Ouellet spoke briefly with journalists after the Mass and reiterated the Pope Francis message of concern for migrants and refugees.
“As Pope Francis’ close collaborator, I invite the people of Canada to have an attitude of welcome,” and to “help integrate” migrants and refugees “who arrive under circumstances of great difficulty.”
In the first six months of 2018, 25,710 people have sought asylum in Canada, including 10,744 illegal or “irregular” border crossers who have mostly entered Canada through Quebec. Quebec has seen the great number of asylum seekers coming to regular points of entry by land, sea or air at 8,605 to Ontario’s 3,485. The Cardinal said he celebrated the Mass to in thanksgiving for his 50 years of priestly ministry. “It is a moment of great joy and gratitude for me,” he said.
Cardinal Ouellet, was ordained in La Motte, in Quebec’s Abitibi Region in 1968. A Sulpician, he spent many years as a missionary in South America training seminarians. He is also president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, a job he has held since his appointment as prefect.