Vancouver’s new archbishop ‘slightly’ more liberal

.- Pope John Paul II announced Jan. 10 that Bishop Raymond Roussin of the Diocese of Victoria will succeed Archbishop Adam Exner as the new archbishop of Vancouver.

Archbishop Exner, who served Vancouver for the last 13 years, is retiring at the age of 75, as required by canon law.

"He's very well loved in the archdiocese," Paul Schratz, spokesman for the archdiocese, told the Vancouver Sun. "He's very well respected, not just in the archdiocese, but I would say across Canada." Archbishop Exner became known across Canada for his orthodoxy, for promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church on social issues, for protecting Catholic health care in British Columbia, for reaching out to the Aboriginal community and for encouraging ecumenical and interfaith dialogue. He was active in promoting reconciliation between the Church and native Indians in the residential-school crisis.

He also set off some controversies regarding homosexuality and the right of Catholic hospitals to discipline staff, who don't adhere to Church teaching, and their right to ban abortions, birth control counselling and sterilizations.

Despite these controversies, many people admire the archbishop for his courage to take a stand, based on faith and principle.

"He's tried to speak up and he's often been pilloried for it. He's shown grace and great strength of character. He's a man of principle," Jackie Gresko, an active Catholic and teacher at Douglas College, told the Vancouver Sun.

New bishop is more liberal

Bishop Roussin, who has only served the Diocese of Victoria for five years, is considered slightly more liberal and less “threatening” than Archbishop Exner.

Though Bishop Roussin would never contravene the direct wishes of Pope John Paul, Patrick Jamieson, editor of Victoria’s The Island Catholic News, said Bishop Roussin has allowed some of the progressive programs, initiated by retired Victoria Bishop Remi De Roo, to continue. Bishop De Roo, though loved by the people as a social-justice advocate, retired from his post after embroiling the diocese in sour financial land-development deals in Washington state.

Bishop Roussin will be officially installed as archbishop of Vancouver in a ceremony in the coming weeks. The Archdiocese of Vancouver has 400,000 Catholics.

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