Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby Bishop... Northern Primate: On "Pope's Day," Hatman Strikes

Good Tuesday morning... and with it, big news for our friends up North.

Appointed an auxiliary to Cardinal Marc Ouellet all of 22 months ago, this morning the Pope named 53 year-old Bishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix as the new archbishop of Quebec in succession to the now-prefect of the all-powerful Congregation for Bishops.

A native son of the million-member Quebec church -- and, along the way, an alum of Manchester's St Anselm's College -- Lacroix (left) becomes its 25th chief shepherd, and primate of Canada as leader of North America's oldest diocese, whose foundation dates to 1658.

Given the nominee's launch from junior prelate to honorary first among equals of the Canadian bench, it can be gleaned that the media-friendly Lacroix -- a member of the Pius X Secular Institute, a new movement dedicated to redoubled efforts at evangelization -- embodies Ouellet's articulated model of his preferred qualities in episcopal leadership, which the cardinal has outlined as “men of faith... [with] the guts to help people live it out” and someone who's "audacious in proposing the Word and in believing in the Power of the Word and the power of the Spirit."

To mark his appointment -- in what one of the more unique reactions to a move -- the archbishop-elect launched a Twitter feed shortly after the Roman Noon announce.

The appointment took the top line in a raft of moves announced today, which included the departure of another Quebec auxiliary, Bishop Gilles Lemay, 62, across the province to lead Ouellet's native diocese of Amos. The duo are the second and third diocesan chiefs in Quebec named on Ouellet's recommendation since the cardinal took up his Vatican duties in September -- notably, half of the Francophone province's 19 ordinaries will reach the retirement age within the next two years. Most prominently among them is Montreal's Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, who turns 75 in late June.

Elsewhere, B16 named three new auxiliaries to Belgium's capital church of Mechelen-Brussels, bolstering the standing of its controversial head, the recently-named Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard; transferred the nuncio to the Philippines -- the soft-spoken Philadelphia native Archbishop Edward Joseph Adams, to oversee the Holy See's mission in Athens -- named an Indian prelate as secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples...

...and lastly, on the very day that a magnitude 6.3 earthquake rocked New Zealand's South island, killing at least 65 and causing sizable damage to Christchurch, whose cathedral has "half-collapsed," the rector of the latter -- Msgr Charles Drennan, 50 -- was named coadjutor-bishop of Palmerston North, located across the Cook Strait.

SVILUPPO: A reader points out a particularly notable piece of the Quebec pick's biography -- Lacroix spent a good piece of his formative years in Manchester, New Hampshire, attending the city's Trinity High School alongside the aforementioned, Benedictine-run St Anselm's.

Last year, the now-archbishop (Trinity Class of '75) was on hand to keynote the banquet at his alma mater's homecoming, which marked the school's 40th anniversary. (Lacroix is shown at right, cheering a touchdown during the homecoming football game.)

During his visit, the young prelate struck his hosts as "funny, engaging, inspiring, thoughtful" and able to "bring the house down."

"He was just so real," a ManchVegas op said. "This guy is the real deal."

And now, the "real deal" becomes a big deal, with a sizable plate of challenges ahead in a heavily-secularized Quebec. Keep an eye -- if the backstory's any indicator, and especially in the high-profile shadow of Rome's lead "kingmaker," the reign of Lacroix should make for quite the ride.