From Rechristianization to Contestation: Catholic Values and Quebec Society, 1931–1970 Academic Article uri icon

  •  
  • Overview
  •  
  • Research
  •  
  • Identity
  •  
  • Additional Document Info
  •  
  • View All
  •  

abstract

  • Speaking before the Commission d'étude sur les laics et l'Église (Commission Dumont) in 1970, Jean-Paul Gignac articulated the feelings of many when he stated that although the church had greatly furthered the survival of French Canadians, the men and women of his own generation had been “strangely traumatized” by Catholicism. At one level, their perplexity can be read as but the obvious response to the travails of Quebec Catholicism in the 1960s. For many decades prior to 1960, the Catholic Church had been successful in imposing on most of Quebec society what appeared to be a unanimity of social and cultural values. But after the mid-1960s, an increasingly evident decline of religious practice, the abandonment of the priesthood by many clergy, the indifference of young people to Roman Catholicism, marked the rapid erosion of the church's social and cultural authority. That erosion was marked in many ways: the deconfessionalization of many Catholic educational and social welfare institutions; the creation of a new pluralist society through state intervention; the rise of a secular “neonationalism“ baserd upon economics, language, and the power of the state instead of a common religious faith; and, at a popular level, the replacement of Christianity by the secular values of a mass-market, North American consumer society. Together these developments, termed the “Quiet Revolution” by historians, decisively marginalized the social and cultural role of Catholicism within Quebec society.

publication date

  • December 2000