French Canadian Catholic Identity

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“French Canada: the rise and decline of a ‘church-nation’” by Sylvie Lacombe covers the influence the Canadian Catholic Church had on French-Canadians from the early nineteenth century until the mid-twentieth century. It explores how the failed Upper Canada rebellions led to British parliamentary control over the French via the Act of Union in 1840. This enabled the Catholic Church to take over several provincial social institutions which came to influence nationalistic ideas and values. Thus, many French-Canadians believed themselves to be part of a “church-state”. However, Irish Catholic immigration, new Anglo-Saxon imperialistic ideologies and the loss of French-speaking schools in the…show more content…
Martel demonstrates that new English nationalistic ideas (in response to immigration) brought new threats of assimilation towards this identity, particularly to French-Canadian citizens not living in Quebec. French-Canadians, originally hesitant to colonize these Western Canadian areas were now encouraged to protect them as they saw these nations as isolated communities of French culture. Finally, both Lacombe and Laplante demonstrate that when the Catholic Church had less influence on political and social institutions, the church became less of a defining concept of the French-Canadian identity. These three, when grouped together, also provide a chronological overview of the rise and fall of Catholic influence among French-Canadian citizens. Lacombe provides the reasons for the rise during the nineteenth century, and its subsequent decline in the early twentieth century. Martel demonstrates how French-Canadian citizens were motivated to preserve their Catholic identity when they began to lose control of the Catholic dioceses outside Quebec during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Laplante explores the transition of Quebec to a more secular province in the 1960s, where the Catholic Church gave way for the province of Quebec to provide the national identity of French-Canadian citizens. The papers by Lacombe and Martel have similar time frames during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with the Lacombe article examining a longer
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