Canada’s newest cardinal, Archbishop Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, was born in a small village in southern Quebec near the Maine border, grew up in New Hampshire where his family moved when he was eight, has many years of experience working as a missionary in South America, and is committed to re-evangelizing a secularized world.
As Canada’s national newspaper The Globe & Mail reported January 12: “Quebeckers have turned their backs on their Catholic roots in what Archbishop Lacroix has coined a ‘tsunami of secularization.’ He has made it his mission to evangelize Quebeckers so that the once-deeply religious province can find its lost faith. That endeavor has resonated with Pope Francis. At Archbishop Lacroix’s first meeting at the Vatican last June, Pope Francis told him twice he needed to ‘pick up Quebec.’”
As a priest, Archbishop Lacroix worked for eight years in Colombia and is fluent in Spanish, the language in which he converses with Pope Francis.
At 56, Lacroix will become the third youngest cardinal. His appointment came without any prior warning.
Lacroix was born on a small dairy farm 186 miles east of Montreal. His parents worked extremely hard, but couldn’t make ends meet, so the family moved to New Hampshire in search of a better life when Gerald was eight years old.
Lacroix worked at a printer and in restaurants. He went on to complete his baccalaureate and his master’s in theology at Laval University, and was ordained in 1988. He decided to become a priest while working as a lay missionary in Colombia.
The selection of Lacroix by Pope Francis “epitomizes the Pope’s dual approach: affirming orthodoxy but also reaching out to the poor,” wrote Michael Coren for Canada’s Sun chain of newspapers January 12. “It’s a consistently Catholic position but one that is not always understood by commentators outside of the Church.”
Lacroix, wrote Coren, is “multilingual, experienced, and highly competent. He’s also profoundly orthodox and his appointment will provide little comfort to those who fantasized that this papacy was about to liberalize the Church. He said in an interview in Quebec City last November, that the Catholic message must not be softened and that trying to make the faith ‘easier’ or pretending that ‘you don’t have to convert completely’ is not ‘what will attract people.’ He continued, ‘Our mission must be to preach the truth of the Gospel, and the full message of the Gospel. The rest does not belong to us. Some will convert and will follow Christ; others will reject us and persecute us for being different.’”
—Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer