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Open Letter To Quebec Catholics;
Searching For Quebecois Pride

Matthias Grunewald. The Mocking of Christ.
Jesus falls into the hands of Quebec Bishops.
(Matthias Grunewald. The Mocking of Christ. [Source])

Note: This text is a critique of the document with the same name, made public by Cardinal Marc Ouellet around 2007-November-20 [À la recherche de la fierté québécoise, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, 2007-November. Could not find it on the Quebec diocese web site on 2016-Feb-27]. The sloppy translation is mine.

[Green] Following my intervention at the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, your comments were numerous and varied. I read them all with great attention, whether they came from the mail or the media. Thanks for the messages of support, thanks also for the criticisms which have made me think and which motivate this open letter which would like to extend the reflexion, clarify misunderstandings and invite us to mutually listen to each other, in a spirit of peace and reconciliation.

[Green] Faced with my analysis of the québécois discomfort, I heard the "finally, it was about time!", as well as the "what a return to the past!". Let's agree on the fact I'm not at all asking the quebecois society to come back to 1950. Sociologically and culturally, pluralism and secularism ("laïcité" in French; Translator's Note or TN) have settled down for good in Quebec, and we should be proud of the gains obtained in the economy, health, culture, social services, education, politics and the vibrancy of quebecois society. Quebec has an enviable standard of living, a nice opening to immigration and plenty of artistic and cultural talent. But an observation remains: its quest for spirituality languishes.

[Yellow] Perhaps it was arrested by an excessive authority of the Church?

Everything depends on this sentence.

It's either-or. Either the Catholic Church was founded by sinful men, or She was founded and continues to be guided by God, this God who is Almighty and infinitely Wise, this God who cannot make errors!

If the Catholic Church was founded by sinful men, then you'd have to be an imbecile to be Catholic. Indeed, the Catholic Church teaches very clearly that She was founded by God, that She continues to be guided by God, and that therefore She is infallible in Her official teachings.

If the Church, as Church, commits one single error, then Catholicism is a religion of lies and duplicity. If we can find even so much as one small error in the official teachings of the Church, whether it is today, or before 1960, or one thousand years ago, then the fundamental claim of the Church is false, and therefore the whole Catholic religion is just one huge card castle, made with cards of lies.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church has always taught, and will always teach, that Her members are sinners, and that Popes, Bishops and Priests can go to Hell just like anybody else. That's why competent Bishops are always very careful to explain the distinction between the Holy and Inerrant Church, and some members of the clergy who do shameful and uncatholic things.

This distinction must be explained even more carefully when you're dealing with an anti-Catholic media which is just begging to hear some Bishop "admit" that "the Church made a mistake" (and therefore that She would be a false Church). I've read three articles in the newspaper and listened to one radio report on this Open Letter by the Cardinal, and nowhere was this crucial distinction made. They only spoke of the Cardinal admitting the errors of "the Church".

[Green] Or maybe it didn't receive the instruction it needed? The spiritual void I spoke about is the result of the spirit of the world who, by trying to eliminate God, proposes to us, in a thousand ways, to be ourselves the god of our life. The chilliness ("frilosité" in French; TN) concerning procreation, concerning life, compromises Quebec's future, and its youth is seeking models which seem to be sorely lacking. We need a serious dialog on [Red] values [End Red] and on our Christian witness to give back hope and faith to the quebecois soul.

On the silliness of the word "value", see my critique of Cardinal Ouellet's speech at the Bouchard-Taylor Commission.

[Green] Despite this, the Catholic Church doesn't lack role models who have left their mark on this society's history. Laypersons, men and women, religious persons, have left memorable traces, a precious heritage in the fields of health, education and evangelization. Pope John Paul II canonized or beatified fourteen (14) of these personalities, during his pontificate. But unfortunately, they are too poorly known.

[Red] Far more attention is granted to the Church's liabilities ("passif" in French; TN)

See here above.

[Green] than to its active contribution to Quebec's history and culture. A just and clairvoyant perspective on our Christian past would help, I think, in recognizing our limits, but also in nourishing the pride and trust of Quebecers for our future.

[Green] Inspiring myself of John Paul II's actions which I witnessed in Rome in March of 2000,

I doubt John Paul II omitted to clarify the very important distinction between the Holy Infallible Church, and the sins of some members of the clergy.

[Green] I therefore invite Catholics to an act of repentance and reconciliation. Quebecois society is saddled with a wounded memory whose bad memories block access to the living fountains of its soul and religious identity. The time has come to take stock of the situation and to start afresh. Errors have been committed which have tarnished the image of the Church and for which we must humbly ask forgiveness. I invite the pastors and the faithful to seek with me ways to recognize our errors and our shortcomings, in order to help our society reconcile itself with its Christian past.

The Cardinal invites me to help him see his mistakes? Forget about the back of a restaurant's paper place mat, I'm going to need a whole web site!

I think the Cardinal should start by re-writing another article which would start with a careful explanation of the distinction between the infallible and inerrant Church, and sins of some members of the clergy. Then, he should apologize not only for the sins of clergy before 1960, but also and especially for the clergy's errors after 1960!

By the way, it's actually a bit funny to see how the Cardinal is in a hurry to beg forgiveness for the long gone sins of others, and that he remains quiet about his own sins which are all four years old or less.

[Yellow] As Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada, I recognize that the narrow attitudes of some Catholics, before 1960, have fostered anti-Semitism, racism, indifference toward First Nations and discrimination against women and homosexuals. The behavior of Catholics and some episcopal authorities concerning the right to vote, access to work and the promotion of women was not always at the height of society's needs, nor even conformant to the social doctrine of the Church.

Notice how funny it is. When I criticize Cardinal Ouellet, I quote at length his documents, and I carefully distinguish between the things I agree with, and the things I disagree with.

On the contrary, the Cardinal here goes through a grocery list of "errors made by Catholic Bishops" (a list which has a striking similarity with the grocery list of leftist anti-Catholic journalists), but without giving the slightest shred of supporting documentation, and without saying exactly what he's sorry for (and what he doesn't have the right to be sorry for, since there cannot be any errors in the official teachings of the Church).

For example, a good quebecois Cardinal could have said something like

The teachings of the Catholic Church on the serious immorality of sodomy are infallibly and eternally true. On the other hand, before 1960, some members of the clergy acted in contradiction with the divine teachings of the Church, and showed contempt for persons with same-sex attractions (as we can see precisely here, and here, and here, taken from this and that piece of evidence). Moreover, after 1960, many members of the clergy did even more harm to persons with same-sex attractions, by omitting to prophetically proclaim the divine teachings of the Church on sodomy (as shown, for example, by all the documents of Cardinal Marc Ouellet). For these anti-Catholic behaviors of some members of the quebecois clergy, I beg forgiveness.

And so on for women's ordination, the contraceptive pill, the condom, native religions, the horrible shortcomings of the clergy after 1960 (which have caused the "chilliness" of Quebecers toward procreation), etc.

[Yellow] I also recognize that abuses of power and counter-testimonials have tarnished in many the image of the clergy, and harmed its moral authority: mothers have been upbraided by Parish Priests without consideration for the family obligations they had already taken on; young persons have suffered sexual assaults by Priests and Religious, causing them serious harm and trauma that have broken their lives! These scandals have shaken the confidence of the people toward the religious authorities, and we understand that! Sorry for all that evil!

Once again, it must be explained that all these behaviors are precisely condemned by the divine teachings of the Catholic Church! We have to ask forgiveness for the anti-Catholic behaviors of some members of the clergy, and nothing else! Moreover, it wouldn't hurt to be more specific about the accusations. The way the Cardinal puts it, we get the impression that these problems were very common, whereas statistically they were probably far less frequent before 1960 than after 1960...

[Green] The 2008 Lent, in the spiritual preparation leading up to the Quebec International Eucharistic Congress, will give us the opportunity of giving a public testimonial of our repentance, based on the gift of God which is made to us in the Eucharist, for the life of the world. Other initiatives will follow to facilitate welcoming, dialogue and healing of the memory.

Speaking of public penance for the sins of Bishops, don't forget the despicable and shameful role of too many Canadian Bishops in the scandal of legalized child-killing.

[Green] May this quest for peace and reconciliation, lived in all sincerity, help Quebec remember more serenely its Christian and missionary identity, which has earned it an enviable place on the international scene.

[Red] As pastor of a people composed in vast majority of Catholics,

We are a tiny minority.

[Red] you'll understand that the transmission of our cultural and religious heritage is dear to my heart.

The Catholic religion is not a silly "cultural heritage".

[Green] This is why I repeat the support to parents who have a right for their children to receive at school a religious education which corresponds to their convictions.

[Red] I therefore ask with them to the State to respect the quebecois tradition of transmission of religious knowledge in school - not necessarily BY the school - and to offer space to the Churches and the recognized religious groups so that they may give confessional courses which will be designed and paid for by them.

That's not what the Catholic Church teaches concerning schools.

[Red] And that in the name of everybody's religious freedom, the State course on Ethics and religious culture be OPTIONAL.

This course must not be optional, it must be completely eliminated.

[Green] We are proud to be Quebecers and we don't want to lose our means of transmitting the profound [Red] values [End Red] of our religious heritage. Our Judeo-Christian tradition has made us a people of solidarity and charity, we know how to show mutual help and we are able to forgive with the help of God. In order to find again our self-esteem and trust in the future, let's look for ways of reconciliation and offer to our compatriots a true dialogue on the spiritual and religious [Red] values [End Red] which have shaped the quebecois identity. In one word, isn't it just a question of, today as yesterday, quite simply, to live the Gospel?

Marc Cardinal Ouellet
Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada

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