Almost 50 years ago, Charles de Gaulle visited Expo 67, a world’s fair held in Montreal, Quebec to celebrate Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967. During his visit, de Gaulle exclaimed, “Vive le Québec libre,” a phrase that made separatists ecstatic and horrified federalists and Lester Pearson, the Canadian prime minister at the time, who countered by saying,
“Canadians do not need to be liberated.”
Was Pearson right? Did Canadians/Quebeckers need to be liberated? Yes, Quebec needed to be liberated from the Catholic Church’s influence in all areas of Quebec society.
During the 1960s, the Quiet Revolution helped to liberate Quebec from the Catholic Church, and thanks to the Quiet Revolution, Quebec became more secular and “the Catholic Church’s role in society diminished.”
In 2017, Canada will celebrate its 150th birthday, and at the same time Montreal will celebrate its 375th anniversary. It is possible that because of Montreal’s anniversary, Catholicism may try to increase its role in Quebec and Canada:
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre has personally invited Pope Francis to visit Montreal in 2017 to take part in the city’s 375th anniversary celebrations.
The last pope to visit Canada was canonized by the Catholic Church and awarded a day in his honour in Ontario and in Canada. If this seems to be a Questionable Cause Fallacy, Mea culpa.
Coderre’s reasons for inviting Pope Francis to visit Montreal are ridiculous. Quebec does not and should not depend on the head of a foreign country to help with Coderre’s personal concerns about Montreal, “poverty, homelessness and social integration for new immigrants as well as for Canada’s aboriginal people.”
Although Coderre believes the pope’s “presence and message of love, tolerance and peace would have a profound impact on Montrealers,” his belief is misplaced. Francis’ messages of love, tolerance and peace have not had a positive effect anywhere. In fact, the pope and the Catholic Church continue to have a profoundly negative impact on society.
Pearson called De Gaulle’s statements “unacceptable to the Canadian people.” Even more “unacceptable” is Denis Coderre’s invitation to Pope Francis to visit Montreal in 2017. Canadians did not need to be liberated in 1967, and Montrealers don’t need Francis’ help to alienate poverty, homelessness or help with the social integration of new immigrants and Canada’s aboriginal people. Francis and his predecessors have done enough damage to Quebec and Canada. Coderre’s invitation was ill advised.
After being severally criticized for his statements, “De Gaulle cut short his trip and went home.” Francis, refuse Coderre’s invitation and stay home!
Popes and Politics
Four decades ago, late one night, I turned on a tiny television set upstairs in the De Viking, a northern Quebec hotel, and watched a local Elvis Presley impersonation contest. Everything, except the lyrics, were in French. The contestants were remarkably talented.
Down in the cocktail lounge, the next morning, I interrupted the local Chamber of Commerce breakfast being led in devotions by a Catholic Cleric of some rank.
After spending the day going over some equipment designs we were jointly developing with a local smelter, I went to the local cinema and watched ‘Bloody Sunday’ a drama about a relationship between two men, one of whom was married to a women. The most memorable thing about the movie was, although it was dubbed in French, the episode where a doctor was practicing French in preparation for a profession meeting, wasn’t altered: so the French speaking doctor ended up practicing French in the un-dubbed actor’s voice. Ironic?
I still cannot converse in French, and regret my lack of fluency.
All of my long term French speaking friends are partial to Catholicism and all of them carry with them some ill-defined suspicion about Jewish bankers. My own Humanism was inspired by French humanist literature; which, strangely enough, is universally foreign to my French-speaking friends.
“Give me the boy until he is twelve and I will give you the man.”
Religion is insidious!
Given that no Bloc Quebecois, Conservative or Liberal voted against bill C-266 (Pope John Paul II Day Act), and a number of Quebec-based NDP MPs voted in favour of bill C-266 at third reading, I am not surprised that Coderre would invite the pope.