MONTREAL ––- Quebec must "rise again" and recover its traditional faith, Pope Francis told Quebec Archbishop Gerald Lacroix, who recently visited Rome.
The archbishop recounted in detail his June 26 audience with the pope at the Vatican to Montreal's French newspaper, La Presse.
He said when he introduced himself as the archbishop of Quebec, "the pope replied, 'Ah, Quebec! Land of missions, a land that has known many great missionaries!'"
Archbishop Lacroix said he indicated to the pope that Quebec wants to continue in the footsteps of the great missionaries, and the pope responded, "Quebec must rise again."
"He would like us Quebecers to find again our faith that gave us life and that built our country," Archbishop Lacroix said. "We have to find again our roots of faith, rise again as Christians and find once again the Gospel in our lives."
In recent years, Quebec, formerly referred to as a "priest-ridden province," has undergone in-depth reforms to separate church from state. Mass attendance has gone from 90 percent before 1960 to around 6 percent, according to a 2008 poll, although at least three-quarters of Quebec's population of 8 million still describes itself as Catholic.