The Most Rev. Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montreal, reacted very positively to the announcement made August 4 by the Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister Responsible for the French Language, Nathalie Roy, regarding the government financial assistance towards the restoration of Quebec’s religious heritage.
Archbishop Lépine took this opportunity to point out that, the Catholic Church of Montreal along with other Christian churches, is the depository of a unique heritage. We have a rich spiritual, communal and social heritage that is embedded in our collective history and is at the heart of our society. Along with his colleague Cardinal Cyprien Lacroix, Archbishop of Quebec, he insisted on the fact that many churches suffer from regular depreciation; like any other building, they need regular maintenance, and even urgent work in some cases, to preserve their longevity.
“The solidarity portrayed at preserving and enhancing churches and other Montreal’s religious heritage buildings is essential to support the communities of faith and to continue to make them accessible to all citizens, and to visitors from all walks of life. By recognizing the importance of these symbols in the transmission of faith, not only do we make visible the hope held by the Christian community, but we also contribute to highlight our rich architectural heritage, a great source of pride in our city of a thousand steeples,” declared Archbishop Lépine.
For Montrealers and many Quebecers, religious heritage bears witness to a glorious past that needs to be passed on to current and future generations. It is, on the North American continent, the sign of an attested culture still alive. Our churches contain architectural riches and heritage values, as well as objects and unpublished works from talented artists and artisans from all periods. Architects, glass and craft workers, carpenters, sculptors and mosaicists have particularly contributed, throughout the ages, to the beauty of these places, to make visible the hope held by the believers.
In spite of the efforts made by the Québec Religious Heritage Council, which has funding capabilities that can take care of up to 80 % of major renovation costs, the reality is that many fabriques and parishes cannot afford to finance the part to be provided by their community anymore.
“The effort made by Quebec is a step in the right direction. The needs are, however, huge everywhere in Quebec and there is a necessity to move forward in this regard,” the Archbishop of Montreal concluded.