The Pope Francisco travels this Wednesday from Edmonton to Quebecin Eastern Canada, to begin the second stage of the six-day tour of the North American country that began on Sunday and that until now has focused on asking indigenous people for forgiveness for the abuse of indigenous children in boarding schools controlled by the Catholic Church, which functioned for almost the entire 20th century.
In Quebec, the pontiff will have a bilateral meeting with the premier Justin Trudeau and then he will address the civil authorities, representatives of the indigenous populations and the diplomatic corps.
Pope Francis arrives in Quebec at a time when many French Canadians in the Canadian province are not only they are turning away from religionbut they are explicitly rejecting itembracing secularization centuries after their ancestors built their identity around the Catholic Church.
A man hangs a flag of the Holy See in the archdiocese of Quebec. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
The collapse of the Church in Quebec
The benches of the churches are rarely full these days, hundreds of churches they have closed their doors and the provincial government has banned public service workers from wearing religious symbols.
“Many temples are closing and that is very revealing about the decline in public support for the Church,” said Jean-François Roussel, a theology professor at the Université de Montréal. “Some people talk about the collapse of the church Catholic in Quebec”.
Although nearly all of the province’s 6.8 million Francophones have Catholic roots, less than 10% attend mass regularly, compared to 90% several decades ago.
Less than 10% of French-speakers in Quebec attend Mass regularly. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
The Church’s influence on politics and culture, once pervasive, has almost completely disappeared and in what is now known as the Silent Revolution, it has lost its central role in areas like education and health care.
This is significant considering that the Church founded the school system in Quebec and that for decades it controlled education, teacher training, social security and health care.
Daniel Béland, professor of political science at McGill University in Montreal, said that Quebec was very similar to Ireland and southern Europe before 1960. At the peak of its influence from the 1930s to the 1950s, the Church dominated people’s lives from conception to death and was closely intertwined with the political establishment.
controlled cultural and intellectual life until what kind of books could be publishedwhat kinds of paintings and sculptures could be exhibited, what kinds of plays could be staged,” wrote Stephen Clarkson and Christina McCall, biographers of Quebec-born former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who died in 2000.
In Quebec, between 1930 and 1950, the Church dominated the lives of the people. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images/AFP
The defeat of a Conservative party in the 1960 provincial elections and the victory of a progressive Liberal government empowered a new economic elite that sought secularismBeland added.
French-Canadian nationalism in Quebec had been very Catholic-centered, but after the Silent Revolution, its most dominant aspect became the French language, he adds.
In 2003 there were 2,746 Catholic Churches in the province. Since then, 713 have been closed, demolished or converted, according to the Quebec Religious Legacy Council. Cardinal Gerald Lacroix said last year that the number of churches in the province it is not sustainable.
The wheelchair-bound Pope visits a lake in Edmonton, Alberta. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto / AFP
Hoy, Quebec government is staunchly secular, embracing policies and an industry that seem to go against the conservative sexual ethic of Catholicism. In 2004, the province legalized same-sex marriage. Montreal, the largest city in the province, has an active sex industry.
In 2019, Quebec prohibited civil servants in positions of authority, such as teachers, police officers, and prosecutors wear religious symbols in their jobs. Critics say the ban is motivated by a recent growth in anti-Muslim sentiment.
The scandals of clergy sexual abuse they have also tarnished the image of the Church. And the discovery of unmarked graves in church-run Indian boarding schools further damaged it.
Trudeau publicly criticized the Church last year, saying it was “deeply disappointed” that he had not formally apologized for his role in schools, where bullying was rampant.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in 2018 that the pope could not personally apologize for abuse in schools, but Francis has already done so, at the Vatican earlier this year, and last Monday in Canada.
AP and Telam