Édouard Gagnon

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His Eminence

Édouard Gagnon

Cardinal, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family
Installed7 July 1983
Term ended8 November 1990
PredecessorJames Knox
SuccessorAlfonso López Trujillo
Other post(s)Cardinal-Priest of St. Marcello, Titular Archbishop of Justiniana
Ordination15 August 1940
by Paul-Ernest-Anastase Forget
Consecration25 March 1969
by Emanuele Clarizio
Created cardinal25 May 1985
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born(1918-01-15)January 15, 1918
DiedAugust 25, 2007(2007-08-25) (aged 89)
Saint-Sulpice Seminary, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post(s)Bishop of St Paul in Alberta, Cardinal-Deacon of Sant'Elena, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications
MottoAd obediendum fidei
Coat of armsÉdouard Gagnon's coat of arms
Styles of
Édouard Gagnon
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal
SeeSan Marcello al Corso

Édouard Gagnon, PSS, OC (15 January 1918 – 25 August 2007) was a Canadian Roman Catholic cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for the Family for 16 years, from 1974 to 1990. He became a cardinal on 25 May 1985.


Édouard Gagnon was born in Port-Daniel, Quebec, one of 13 children. His mother was part Irish, his father a French Canadian carpenter. In 1921 the family moved to the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighborhood in Montreal, where he received his primary education. In 1936 he earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Montreal, before entering the major seminary of Montreal, where he received a doctorate degree in theology in 1941. While there, he served as a part-time secretary of the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal. He was ordained on 15 August 1940. He then studied at the University of Laval in Quebec from 1941 to 1944, receiving a doctorate in canon law.[1]

Father Gagnon was admitted to the Society of St Sulpice in 1945. Upon his return to Montreal, he taught moral theology and canon law at the Grand Seminary from 1945 to 1954. He joined the Knights of Columbus in 1950 and was a member of St. Boniface Council 3158 in Manitoba.[2] He was rector of the major seminary of Saint Boniface from 1954 to 1960, and then director of the major seminary in Manizales, Colombia. Gagnon was elected Provincial of the Society of Saint-Sulpice for Canada, Japan and Latin America. During this time, he also acted as a peritus (theologian advisor and consultant) during the Second Vatican Council, especially during the 3rd and 4th sessions (1964-1965). He became secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications in 1966. In June 1968, he was appointed one of the thirty consultors of the Congregation for Catholic Education.[1]

Gagnon was named Bishop of St. Paul, Alberta, on 19 February 1969, and was consecrated on 25 March 1969.[1] In 1972, he was named rector of the Canadian College in Rome. He became Archbishop of the titular see of Justiniana on 7 July 1983. He was then made a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II during the consistory of 25 May 1985.

He held several important posts in the Roman Curia. For many years, he was President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and he fully supported the prohibition on contraception in Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae vitae.[3] He attended the Synod of Bishops in 1985 and in 1987. In 1991, he was appointed President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

In 1993, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.[4] He opposed the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Canada in 2005.

He died on August 25, 2007, in Montreal at the Saint-Sulpice Seminary. The funeral Mass was at Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal. On hearing of his death, Pope Benedict XVI said that Cardinal Gagnon was a "faithful pastor who, with an evangelical spirit, consecrated his life in service to Christ and his Church."[3]

Special Assignments[edit]

In 1987 Cardinal Gagnon was given the task of seeking a rapprochement with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre's traditionalist Society of St Pius X. Gagnon conducted interviews with the Archbishop and others. The Archbishop requested a date to consecrate a Bishop. Rome delayed,and following request after request by Archbishop Lefebvre for a date he never received one. Therefore before he died he consecrated three Bishops to allow continuity. For this he was excommunicated.


Cardinal Gagnon lectured at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. The Edouard Cardinal Gagnon Professorship of Fundamental Theology was created at the Institute by the Knights of Columbus in honorable memory of Cardinal Gagnon.[2]


  1. ^ a b c ""Biography of Cardinal Édouard Gagnon, p.s.s.", Society of the priests of Saint-Sulpice, Province of Canada". Archived from the original on 2016-08-18. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
  2. ^ a b "Knights Mourn Death of Cardinal Edouard Gagnon", Knights of Columbus, 27 August 2007
  3. ^ a b Moynihan, Robert. "A Dying Cardinal", Catholic Exchange
  4. ^ "Cardinal Edouard Gagnon 1918 – 2007", Catholic Insight, November 2007

External links[edit]