QUEBEC CITY, FEB. 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Quebec is enthusiastically preparing the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, even though Benedict XVI will not be able to attend.
The Pope's decision to forego the June 15-22 conference was affirmed by Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Quebec, who was recently in Rome.
"The Pope had to choose between Sydney and Quebec, as he cannot make two trips that are so long," Cardinal Ouellet told ZENIT. "But the people are not overly disappointed and we continue the organization with excitement."
The Holy Father will celebrate his 81st birthday during a trip to the United States just two months before the Quebec conference. World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, will bring the Pontiff to Oceania for several days in July.
Cardinal Ouellet was at the Pontifical Lateran University to present a book titled, "Mistero e sacramento dell'amore, teologia del matrimonio e della famiglia per la nuova evangelizzazione" (Mystery and Sacrament of Love: Theology of Matrimony and Family for the New Evangelization).
The volume affirms that the Eucharist is related to social justice. "There is certainly a great interest in celebrating the presence of the Lord and being nourished by the Holy Eucharist," the cardinal said, "and also in seeing that between social justice, peace, and the Eucharistic mystery, there are very tight bonds."
Cardinal Ouellet affirmed that youth are especially eager for the international congress.
One of the youths in question, a young religious sister, told ZENIT: "I am very content with the Eucharistic Congress and that this event of such importance is happening in my country, because it offers the opportunity to rediscover that sacrament and also gives a new impulse to live the beauty of the Eucharist better and in a more communitarian way."
Sister Jacinthe Carron, from Quebec, was at the presentation of the cardinal's book.
A Canadian laywoman, Amélie Martineau-Lavallée, added: "I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Eucharistic Congress in Guadalajara and I have seen the fruits that it has brought. Now I see it for [the congress] in Quebec and I hope for the same thing for the county. In fact, it has been a special grace for me to participate in that congress, because I really discovered to what point the Eucharist is Someone."