Fr. Vaillancourt, the pastor of the Cathedral Marie-Reine-du-Monde in Montreal— Photo: Joanne Of Arc
By Joanne of Arc for Quebec Life Coalition
Father Alain Vaillancourt, pastor of the Cathedral Marie-Reine-du-Monde in Montreal, agreed to speak with Quebec Life Coalition about March for Life.
Each year, the Cathedral encourages youth to participate in the March to promote a culture of life in Quebec.
Along with Brian Jenkins, Vice President of Quebec Life Coalition, the three of us sat down for a brief chat before attending mass at the Cathedral which was offered in support of the 40 Days for Life vigil beginning February 22, 2023.
Joanne for QLC: Brian told me that you are a frequent participant in the March for Life?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Ah, yes, I've attended several times!
Joanne for QLC: Do you know how many Marches for Life have you participated in?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: I haven't counted them! However, I have been going to them since I have been at the Cathedral... so for over 10 years, I must have done at least five. My goal is to go every two years.
Joanne for QLC: Why is it a priority for you to attend the March for Life? We know that priests are very busy...
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Thursday is my day off!
[We share a moment of laughter].
Joanne for QLC: Always?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Yes!
[We continue to laugh together]
Joanne for QLC: It's good timing then! What did you think of your last walk?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: What I liked most was the march itself. The year before, the speeches were rather political. I have nothing against politics, but I am more sensitive to testimonies. As a priest, I can't be political, so I look for speeches that talk about the importance of saving lives.
Joanne for QLC: Was there a particular testimony that touched you among those you heard?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: There were several, but by heart I can't tell you which one. Often the testimonies revolve around the same subject, it is about a person who wanted to have an abortion, then finally the person did not have an abortion and they are happy with their decision.
I also read a lot of the testimonies in the Quebec Life Coalition newsletter. There are wonderful testimonies that are shared, it's always touching. Sometimes, I almost have tears in my eyes when I read them.
Joanne for QLC: Yes, we shared a testimony recently that was very touching, that of Mrs. Catherine Lavoie who decided to keep her son and who was cured of cystic fibrosis. I don't know if you had the chance to read it online?
Abbé Alain Vaillancourt: Wow! It's wonderful to read stories like that. I read the paper format instead. I knew a lady who was pressured to have an abortion. She was told that if she didn't have an abortion she would die, for certain. Finally, she said no, that she was ready to die to save the life of her child. She never died, and the child never died either. [He smiles]. It's a beautiful child!
Joanne for QLC: It's beautiful to hear stories like that. It is very good that there is a time dedicated to witnesses at the March for Life.
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Yes, and also to continue to answer the question asked earlier. What touched me at the March for Life was the front line. There were very dynamic young people, from the English-speaking community, and I asked who they were. They answered that "they are a parish group for life". I was so surprised! A parish group for life! It is difficult to have young people in the parishes, but they have not only a youth group, but a youth group for life! It is a specialized group, there were at least 50-60 of them, it was very impressive.
Father Alain Vaillancourt, in his office before offering a mass in support of the 40 Days for Life vigil --Photo: Joanne D'Arc
Joanne for QLC: You share with us that you are impressed by the pro-life youth. On the youth side, we are impressed with the priests who are pro-life! So can you tell us why priests don't talk about it in parishes as a matter of course?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: That's a good question. I don't know why... I couldn't answer you. Priests could not be in favor of abortion, it is impossible. But why don't they get more involved? You'd have to ask them, case by case.
Joanne for QLC: Okay. Coming back to the subject of the March, do you recommend that young people go to this event?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: We announce it every year, we announce it at the Cathedral and the young people go.
Joanne for QLC: In your opinion, why is it important for young people to get involved in the pro-life movement?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Because it's regarding faith. According to me, it is a fight between God and those who oppose God. It is a spiritual battle; the cause of abortion. Then, to be in favor of life is to be in favor of God, because it is God who is the author of Life. We cannot substitute ourselves from God.
I also noticed that when we were at the March, we were a large group that prayed, joyful and in good spirits. At one point, we were interrupted by an aggressive group, which did not really exude joy of life, but rather the spirit of the devil. So they made us walk the other way.
We had serenity, while they had aggression. It's like [comparing] violence versus non-violence.
The police was there to prevent the fuss, but it struck me that image.
Also, there was a lady that I remember. She was on her balcony saying "my body, my body, my body! " She looked very self-centered. It's like an inward focus; I am pro-women. But it is a misunderstanding to think that one is against women when one is for Life. On the contrary, we are for women, because the woman who gives birth to a child is so happy. The secret of happiness for the woman is not to kill her child, but to give birth to her child. And as Mother Teresa said, if you don't want your child, "give it to me, I will take care of it." [He smiles]
Joanne for QLC: If we had to prioritize, is abortion the worst thing that is happening here? After all, we're the only country that doesn't have a law against abortion. Or should the priority be to focus on God, and the first commandment, because we are not even a country that practices the Catholic faith in majority anymore.
Father Alain Vaillancourt: For my part, I have never numbered things. Let's say that it's a whole. There is a moral laxity that is generalized in all aspects of society, whether it is [assisted] suicide, or the change of sex. There is no longer a positioning towards God. So, in a way, it is true to say that someone who finds God in his life will automatically have "light" on the moral condition of our society today. He will understand that we are on the wrong path. On the other hand, I wouldn't say that one thing takes priority over the other. We focus on God, yes, but everyone chooses their own cause [to fight for], that's my opinion.
Joanne for QLC: If you had to answer me in a few simple words, why are you pro-life?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: Because I am a believer.
Father Alain Vaillancourt celebrating mass in support of the 40 Days for Life vigil. -- Photo: Joanne of Arc
Joanne for QLC: A more in-depth question, what is the status of the unborn child according to the Catholic Church?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: According to the Catholic Church, it is believed that the child lives in its mother. It is not the legal status that says that the person becomes a person when he or she is born. We believe that the status of person is at the beginning, from the moment of conception. The chromosomes are there, the child is constituted, so why would we say that it is not a child only because it is in the belly of its mother? (…)
Brian for QLC: Along the same lines, what is the status of the aborted child according to the Catholic Church? Is there anything we can do for that child? For example, in Rachel's project, the child is given a name and then there is a grieving process that takes place. Some people even talk about baptizing a child, but the child has already passed away. So from the Church's point of view, what can we do?
Father Alain Vaillancourt: He cannot be baptized in the sacramental sense, but there can be something spiritual done, like giving him a name. In fact, even those who lose their child naturally, give their child a name.
After our conversation, Brian asked Fr. Vaillancourt if a Mass could be offered in support of the 40 Days for Life Vigil. He agreed and we headed to the Cathedral to celebrate together.
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