Patrick Craine

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Strong pro-life bishop appointed to lead Quebec’s largest diocese

Patrick Craine

MONTREAL, Quebec, March 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) –Pope Benedict XVI has appointed a new bishop to head the Archdiocese of Montreal who brings with him a strong reputation as an advocate for life and family.

Archbishop-elect Christian Lepine, 60, who was ordained Auxiliary Bishop for Montreal on September 10th, 2011, will succeed Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte as head of Canada’s second largest Catholic diocese, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced Tuesday morning.

Lepine is known to pro-life and pro-family advocates for having attended pro-life conferences and shown support for reparative therapy for those experiencing unwanted homosexual attractions.

The bishop was ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Montreal in 1983, and worked in parishes while studying theology before serving at the Vatican from 1998 to 2000. Before his ordination as Auxiliary Bishop he served at Montreal’s Grand Séminaire in Montréal and then, in 2006, was pastor for the parishes of Notre-Dame-des-Champs and Purification-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie.

In the fall of 2009, his parish of Notre-Dame-des-Champs became the centre of a media controversy after they hosted a session for parents on how to instill an integrated sexual identity in their children.  The then-Fr. Lepine had to cancel the last two sessions of the series after homosexual activists threatened to protest.

Georges Buscemi, head of Campagne Québec-Vie, the provincial division of Campaign Life Coalition, welcomed the appointment, calling Lepine a “faithful and humble man” who is “very learned.” “I look forward to working with this new bishop to build a culture of life in Montreal and in Quebec at large,” said the pro-life activist.

In announcing the appointment, Pope Benedict also accepted Cardinal Turcotte’s resignation, which he had tendered in June 2011 upon reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75. The Cardinal had served as head of the diocese for 22 years after eight years as Auxiliary bishop.

This latest appointment would appear to continue the Pope’s trend of appointing strong and orthodox bishops in Quebec in the wake of his appointment of Cardinal Marc Ouellet, former Archbishop of Quebec City, as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops.

Church watchers had predicted that Ouellet’s appointment to the congregation in 2010 would have a major positive influence on his home province, where Church leaders have for the last several decades been a leading force in the spread of liberalism throughout the Church in Canada.

Before taking up the position, Ouellet had emphasized in an interview with Canadian Catholic News’ Deborah Gyapong that bishops “need spiritual discernment and not just political calculation of the risk of the possibility of the message being received.”

“We have to dare to speak to the deep heart, where the Spirit of the Lord is touching people beyond what we can calculate,” he said.

While the CCCB release indicated that Cardinal Turcotte would remain in Montreal as Apostolic Administrator until Archbishop-elect Lepine’s installation, Montreal Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Dowd, who was ordained along with Lepine in September, wrote on his blog that Lepine took canonical possession of the diocese this morning.

The Archdiocese of Montréal is Canada’s second largest Archdiocese, with 214 parishes and missions and a Catholic population of 1,494,132, according to the CCCB. It is served by 440 diocesan priests, 572 priests who are members of religious communities, 3,678 Religious Sisters and Brothers, 96 permanent deacons and 105 lay pastoral assistants.

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