QUEBEC CITY, Canada — Archbishop Maurice Couture, retired archbishop of Quebec, died Jan. 19 at St. Francis of Assisi Hospital. The 91-year-old archbishop had been hospitalized for a few days.
Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec, who was preparing to take a few days off when he heard the news, canceled his plans.
A Mass in memory of Couture was celebrated Jan. 19 at Notre-Dame Basilica Cathedral. His funeral is expected to be in the first week of February.
“We offer our sincere condolences to his family as well as to the members of the Congregation of Religious of St. Vincent de Paul and to the great diocesan community to which he was so attached,” the Archdiocese of Quebec said in a statement.
Maurice Couture was born in 1926 in Saint-Pierre-de-Broughton, south of Quebec City. He was ordained a priest in 1952 in the religious community of St. Vincent de Paul. He was appointed auxiliary bishop of Quebec City in 1982. Six years later, he became bishop of Baie-Comeau. He was appointed archbishop of Quebec City March 17, 1990.
Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation in 2002.
During his lifetime, Couture liked to say that he did not want to bother his successors. He was discreet, both during the episcopal ministry of Cardinal Marc Ouellet and that of Lacroix.
In 2016, in one of his last interviews, he said bishops, faced with the evolution of Canadian and Quebec societies, should always remain faithful to the message of the Gospel. However, they should also know how to be benevolent with society.
“It’s our world, that’s it. And we love that world,” he told French Canadian news agency Presence.
He was particularly pleased with the style of Pope Francis and the Year of Mercy that was then in full swing in the Catholic Church.
“If we see in the Church an institution that preserves its positions but is able to show understanding, to welcome, I find that the Year of Mercy is a darn good opportunity that is given to us. It fits with vision the new pope brings us: Go outside, do not just stay with your little group, go, go to the world!”
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Vaillancourt is editor-in-chief of Presence info, based in Montreal.