Not by an normal measurement, it isn’t. Only about 10 per cent of the population go to mass regularly. The number of priests, monks and religious is way down. So are vocations. Catholic churches are being closed all over the place.
Despite all that, there is a theme emerging at the Bouchard-Taylor hearings on Quebec’s identity that suggests Catholicism may be much stronger here than all the church closings suggest. Mario Dumont caught onto this early on when he suggested the Quebecois need to reconnect with their past, the one that the generation of the Quiet Revolution had wholly rejected.
The Commission hearings reveal just how uncritical many Quebeckers seem to be toward that past. And a major element of that past is the Catholic religion. Journal de Montreal columnist Richard Martineau writes: “You’d think the years when the Catholic Church lorded over Quebec society were a golden age ….”
There seems to be a prevailing sense among many young Quebeckers that their society has lost its bearings and that one way to get them back is to re-embrace what it has always meant to be a Quebecois in the first place: their language, families and memory.
There is scarce evidence that this “re-rooting” is driving young Quebeckers back into the pews. But that doesn’t mean young Quebeckers are willing to purge their society of its Catholic traditions, something that next to sovereignty was job number one for their secularist parents.
Today’s parents have decried the Ministry of Education’s plan to replace classes on church catechism with a course in world religions and ethics beginning next year. The vast majority of parents still enroll their children in religion classes even though they themselves rarely go to Sunday Mass. They do so because these classes don’t just teach children about Catholic doctrine but about Quebec’s history and traditions.
Mr. Dumont again: “I won’t accept that we take periods of our history, rip them out and throw them in the garbage.” A big part of that history was Catholicism. Sure, there are plenty of older Catholics who’d like to see a return to traditional Catholic values. What is really surprising is that so many young Quebeckers are asking what happened to their religious patrimony in today’s secularist Quebec.
Would you agree with the sentiment that Quebec is still fundamentally Catholic?