Pope Francis will not be visiting Montreal in 2017. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, recently relayed this message in a letter addressed to the President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Douglas Crosby.
"Pope Francis wishes to communicate that it will not be possible for him to visit Canada in 2017, but it is his earnest hope to consider the possibility of including Canada among the destinations of his Apostolic Visits at the time of planning his travels for 2018-2019," wrote Archbishop Bonazzi, stating that the Pope sends his Apostolic Blessing "to all the faithful of Canada and to the entire country."
The invitation to come to Montreal for its jubilee year was presented to Pope Francis in February 2015, when Mayor Denis Coderre and Archbishop Christian Lépine visited Rome and met the Holy Father. Following that meeting, other official invitations were extended to the Pope, particularly to visit Canada on the occasion of its 150th anniversary of Confederation.
Upon learning of the news, Archbishop Lépine expressed his gratitude to Pope Francis for having considered the possibility of making this visit.
The presence of the Holy Father would certainly have generated great enthusiasm here. All the same, "the 375th anniversary of Montreal remains a unique opportunity to highlight the spiritual dimension of the city's origins," says Most Rev. Christian Lépine in a special pastoral letter to be published this Thursday, December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
In addition, the Archdiocese of Montreal will announce, in timed releases, the various activities it has planned as part of the 375th Jubilee celebrations. Among them will be a special Mass at Notre-Dame Basilica, to be held on May 17, 2017, the anniversary date of the city's founding. In conjunction with the celebration, parishes throughout the archdiocese will participate by ringing their church bells simultaneously.
As of Thursday, the Archbishop's pastoral letter will be available on our diocesan Website, and will also be distributed throughout parishes within the archdiocese on the weekend of December 18, the fourth Sunday of Advent.