Hours after his death April 8, Montreal Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte was praised by Quebec City Cardinal Gérald Cyprian Lacroix and the emeritus archbishop of Quebec, Maurice Couture, for his "joie de vivre" and for a communication style that invited open dialogue.

Published in Canada

MONTREAL - Montreal's cardinal of the people, Archbishop Emeritus Jean-Claude Turcotte, is dead.

The popular cardinal, who served as Montreal's archbishop for 22 years, died April 8 in Montreal’s Marie-Clarac Hospital.

Published in Canada

Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte of Montreal, one of the most popular Quebeckers alive even as the province grew more decidedly secular, has entered the last stage of his life.

Published in Canada

Recent stories about two Catholic high schools are terrific examples of how government policies can sometimes produce the exact opposite effect as intended.

Published in Robert Brehl

MONTREAL - A Catholic deacon who was arrested with more than 100,000 pornographic pictures of children was sentenced Mar. 24 to two years less a day in prison.

Published in Canada

MONTREAL - In response to a controversial decision to drop the word “Catholic” from the name of a prominent Montreal social agency, the archdiocese has announced the launch of a new welfare agency called Catholic Action.

Published in Canada
February 26, 2015

Welcoming nation

A splendid idea percolated last month out of Montreal, where Archbishop Christian Lepine and Mayor Denis Coderre invited Pope Francis to visit Quebec in 2017.

Published in Editorial
February 5, 2015

A community withers

The great Catholic journalist Malcolm Muggeridge said there is nothing more pathetic than a ruling class on the run. Well, maybe there is. Maybe it is  a community that lets its institutions die from the inside out.

Published in Peter Stockland

MONTREAL - Pope Francis has been invited to Montreal in 2017 to participate in celebrations marking the city’s 375th anniversary.

Published in International

MONTREAL - A Montreal parish is rallying behind a Catholic family that is battling deportation to Cameroon where it faces an uncertain and perhaps even dangerous future. 

Published in Canada
June 18, 2014

No comfort in words

On the very day Quebec legalized medical killing this month, I committed an act of euthanasia. 

Published in Peter Stockland

The Archdiocese of Montreal is hoping to score some points with the faithful by encouraging parishioners to light digital prayer candles for the Montreal Canadiens.  

Published in Canada

CBC budget cuts in April that will cost more than 600 employees their jobs left the weekly Mass in French relatively unscathed.

Published in Arts News

OTTAWA (CCN) - William Kokesch, a Montreal permanent deacon who served nearly10 years as a communications director for Canada's Catholic bishops, faceschild pornography charges.

Published in Canada
October 24, 2012

Catholic Montreal lives

Within 20 minutes of my house are shrines to Canada’s two newest saints. To the south, visible across the St. Lawrence, is the spire and façade of St. Francis of Xavier Mission in Kahnawake, the simple little church that honours St. Kateri Tekakwitha. Heading in the opposite direction for a few minutes brings into view the unmistakable dome of St. Joseph’s Oratory, the imposing shrine to St. Brother André Bessette.

Both, of course, have been elevated to sainthood in the past two years — St. Kateri on Oct. 21; St. Brother André in October, 2010. I wish I could say this fresh and welcome bursting forth of sanctity has had an immediate beneficial effect on the city of Montreal, or even my neighbourhood. That might be hoping for too much too soon. Perhaps the power of the communion of saints obliges dutiful patience at least equivalent to that required for the process of sainthood itself.

What has been notable is the attention paid to both canonizations in a city that normally prides itself on its smirking, cynical secularism and its contempt for all things related to the Church. With Brother André’s elevation, particularly, there was a genuine buzz that was amplified by official civic and media interest. The interest in St. Kateri, the Lily of the Mohawks, was more muted. Her church, after all, is on the city’s south shore across the rickety Mercier Bridge, not in fashionable Outremont.

Still, significant attention was paid in quarters that might have been otherwise expected to ignore it. It was, if nothing else, an opportunity to flay the Church yet again for its sins against the aboriginal population. There was also the irresistible attraction of working in pop culture references to Leonard Cohen’s 1966 novel Beautiful Losers, in which Kateri is the object of a character’s obsession.

The enduring appeal of at least local saints, even if only as a morbid fascination with the Church’s purported eccentricities, confounds the authorized Quebec attitude toward Catholicism and, indeed, Christianity itself.

For generations now, Quebecers have been taught to regard their historic, foundational faith as if it were grandmother’s corpse in a rocking chair in the attic: if we ignore it eventually the smell will go away. But what ho! It turns out there is plenty of life in the old girl yet.

Recognition of that life would unquestionably have a salutary effect not just on the future of the Church as an institution, not to mention the souls of the faithful yet-to-come, but also on Quebec’s connection to, and understanding of, its past. Research being done by a young scholar I know provides a sense of how clouded that understanding is, and the larger cultural damage that is the result.

The researcher has become fascinated by the role of religious women, particularly the Ursuline nuns, in the development of early New France. While popular depiction smothers the landscape of that era with Jesuits in black robes, he is discovering how much even cloistered women religious were able to contribute to the establishment of the settlement and, more importantly, to peaceful interaction with indigenous peoples.

His research is in the early stages yet so he is shy about attention, but the evidence is starting to show that the first Ursuline teaching and nursing sisters were a focal point for the exchange of knowledge in arts such as weaving and basket making as well as in botany and chemistry. He has found a treasure trove of personal letters and official reports revealing that pivotal role. It has turned up not in Montreal or Quebec City, where one might expect to find it, but in archives in Paris and other French cities.

What’s fascinating is not just that the French archival material has gone untouched for so long, but why it has been ignored. Quebec academics, he says, don’t like to go outside Quebec to research their own history. And if it involves the Church? Well, they’d rather tiptoe past the door to the attic than enter and find out how grandmother’s doing in her rocking chair. Why not? It’s what they’ve been taught to do for generations. Yet if all history is ultimately local, as a wise man once said, what happens to a people when the very institutions that shaped its locale are declared verboten?

All we can do then is pray that the saints in the neighborhood will preserve us.

Published in Peter Stockland

Comment

St Michaels College abuse 02

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza: Lazy media suggest St. Michael's coverup 

Ever since Watergate, scandals have been covered according to the adage: “It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup,” Fr. Raymond J. de Souza writes.

Faith

Pope's homily

Features