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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
From I Was a Priest, 1949
No French-Canadian is prouder than we are of our French blood and of the large contribution our compatriots have made in the shaping of our Canadian nation. However, we cannot believe that we are a traitor to our race and to our national traditions, if we point out to fellow-Canadians what has handicapped our people in their endeavours to attain a normal national standing with the other major national elements of our democratic Canada.
French-Canadians, we may just as well admit it, are not up to the expected standing of their English-speaking neighbours in the fields of finance, science, engineering and cognate sciences. No doubt French-Canadians have intelligence and national opportunity on the same level as English-speaking Canadians, yet they cannot compete with them. A French-Canadian's industry and hospitality is known the world over and his attachment to his native soil is proverbial. His inferiority in certain spheres is certainly not due to his blood and language.
What is it, then, that places our compatriots in such a disadvantageous position? To our mind, it is the system of education that causes this handicap. Before we study the education dispensed to French-Canadians in the colleges and seminaries of Quebec, let us examine our national conscience and see what is wrong.
We find that two great races strive to live in harmony with different national and religious ambitions under identical democratic principles. This would be possible only under an identical system of national education. The crucial fact is that in Canada there are two entirely diametrically opposed systems of education and therefore national unity cannot be achieved. In Quebec, where most French-Canadians are educated, institutions consecrated to national education are all under the control of the Church of Rome.
The professors are all priests or nuns. The curriculum of studies is concentrated on subjects such as Latin, Greek, Roman and Church History and Apologetics, to the exclusion of a more practical education. These studies might be useful to a future priest but are entirely useless to a French-Canadian who wishes to attain a normal national training in science, engineering and other similar subjects which will allow him to take his place alongside his English-speaking friends.
There are very few nations left today that entrust the national education of their youth to a mere religious denomination. The French-Canadian system has been imported from France, but democratic France has long ago given up that antiquated Church system of education, while Quebec still clings to it desperately.
It is a system that trains youth to think as the Church does and not necessarily in accordance with modern science and national exigency.
Science, in a Roman system of education, is approached in a different manner than in a free institution of learning. Rome has always impressed professors and students with a false sense of their intellectual weakness and with the constant possibility of making wrong judgments unless the minds and wills are submitted to the infallible authority of the Pope.
National unity cannot be achieved in Canada until Quebec is willing to improve or alter its antiquated educational system, which produces ill effects not only in the field of national good understanding and cooperation, but in the very students who labour under such a handicap. Some efforts have been made by outstanding French-Canadians to impress upon those in authority the need to improve or to change this old Roman system. The Apostles of Progress have been immediately excommunicated by Rome or have fallen into disgrace in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in Quebec.
The great statesman, Papineau, was excommunicated for advancing the idea of a better and more progressive system of education in Quebec, while in recent years the courageous Senator Bouchard and the brilliant writer, Jean-Charles Harvey, were classed by Roman priests as anti-clerical and anti-French-Canadian for their efforts to create in the minds of French-Canadians some thoughts of progress and unity in the field of education.
It is not an easy task for French-Canadians to improve their system of education in Quebec when the very suggestion of improvement entails the condemnation of their souls to eternal perdition by an all-powerful Church. The only alternative would be for French-Canadians to take the matter into their own hands and create the system of education according to their needs and wishes, without submitting to the foreign authority of Rome.
This will have to be done as it was done in France and in many other countries where Rome had subjugated minds and souls for many centuries. The modern mind is, fortunately, more independent and more progressive. Quebec must have its turn if French-Canadians are called to progress and live in line and harmony with the rest of Canadians.
The present Quebec system of education is the very same that once condemned the genius minds who in the past, dared to rise higher than the feet of the Pope:
(a) Galileo was sent to a dungeon for advancing the theory that the earth revolves around the sun. The Church put a stop to Galileo's scientific investigations, but the learned man was right.
(b) Copernicus was excommunicated from the Church of Rome for scientific discoveries which later proved to be true.
(c) The French priest Lamenais was condemned by his Church because he preached liberty of conscience.
(d) The French-Canadian statesman Papineau was excommunicated because he advanced the theory that the Quebec system of education was inadequate and antiquated.
(e) The French-Canadian priest, Father Chiniquy, in his book, “FIFTY YEARS IN THE CHURCH OF ROME”, wrote the following:
Papineau studied under the priests of Rome in their colleges at Montreal. From his earliest years that Eagle of Canada could see and know the priests of Rome as they are; he has weighed them in the balance; he has measured them; he has fathomed the dark recesses of their anti-social principles; he has felt his shoulders wounded and bleeding under the ignominious chains with which they dragged our dear Canada in the mire for nearly two centuries.
But the echoes of Canada are still repeating the thundering words with which Papineau denounced the priests as the most deadly enemies of education and liberty in Canada. He was one of the first men of Canada to understand that there was no progress, no liberty possible for our beloved country so long as the priests have the education of our people in their hands. The whole life of Papineau was a struggle to wrest Canada from their grasp.
Today Quebec is just as far removed from a beneficial change in its system of education as it was a century ago at the time of Papineau. The situation is somewhat more desperate. The priests of Rome have even a stronger hold on the education of the French-Canadians. They have succeeded in planting in the minds of many French-Canadians, especially during the past twenty years, a separatism education which calls for separating Quebec from confederation. This new idea is a direct result of Roman education in Quebec.
It has not sprung from the minds of Quebecers by chance. It was a well-planned policy of Rome. The whole idea is to prepare Quebec, which would be called Laurentia under this plan, for a possible future papal State for the Pope. We have often heard Bishops and priests in intimate conversations, while we were a priest, speaking freely of this hope to make Quebec the residence of the Pope should he be obliged to leave Rome some day.
The Pope is a temporal ruler as well as a religious leader and his authority and prestige need some territory in which he can rule. Quebec is the most Roman-minded region in the world today and it has been selected by the Pope for a possible residence.
Some readers might think that this statement is far-fetched and a product of our imagination. Perhaps some remember the interview the Archbishop of Quebec gave journalists in March 1948, when an Italian general election was imminent and possibilities were that the Pope’s presence would have become impossible should the Communist party capture power. The Toronto Star, dated March 25, 1948, published that interview. The Archbishop of Quebec, Most Rev. Maurice Roy declared that Quebec was willing and prepared to receive the Pope.
Roman Catholic Bishops do not make such public declarations on the Pope unless the Pope has himself approved of them.
This plan of making Quebec a papal state is so well advanced that Roman authorities have even believed that the time had come to elect a French-Canadian Pope so that his capture of Quebec territory would be much easier than that of an Italian Pope, through diplomatic pressure. At the death of Pope Pius XI, the Cardinals who elect the Pope, thought that the time had come to elect Cardinal Villeneuve as Pope.
In fact, he had well prepared the minds of Canadians on this idea of Separatism and a Papal State for the Pope in the new Laurentia. Too many Italian Cardinals, however, failed to rally to this change of Roman tradition, and refused to give their votes to a foreign Cardinal. However, the present Pope obtained thirty-three votes on the first ballot and Cardinal Villeneuve got as many as twenty-five votes. Never in the history of modern Romanism had a foreign Cardinal obtained so many votes for the Papacy.
The figures quoted above are those of a French-Canadian Roman Catholic paper edited by the Oblate Fathers, the same Order of which Cardinal Villeneuve was a member, La Liberté et le Patriote, of Winnipeg, Manitoba, in its issue dated January 23, 1948.
We do not object in our free and democratic Canada that the religious Head of a Church should make his residence in Quebec or in any other part of Canada, but in this case it involves the loss of a Canadian Province to Confederation and to the British Empire. It means the breaking up of our beloved country for the benefit of a foreign ruler. There is food for thought in this menace for every patriotic Canadian to study carefully and to act accordingly.
The education of French-Canadians which has prepared their minds to accept separatism is not only dispensed by priests but also in Quebec colleges and youth organizations in that Province.
The Roman Catholic Hierarchy has in its control several newspapers which directly and openly publish articles in favour of a separate state in Quebec.
Le Devoir is one of the Roman Catholic daily newspapers published in Montreal. Its policies are inspired by the Hierarchy. This daily is said to be the newspaper “par excellence” of the French-Canadian intellectuals. The Roman Church, in Quebec, has educated the last two generations of French-Canadians in national spheres through the medium of this newspaper.
Le Devoir was from the very beginning, ultra nationalist and anti-British. Today it preaches the doctrines of Separatism, that is, the idea of making Quebec a separate and independent state which would eventually become a papal state. The following is a sample of Le Devoir’s national educational campaign which it dispenses to educated French-Canadians in the name of the Roman Church:
“As long as Canada has the same king as Great Britain, as long as any British subject whatever can from one day to another call himself a Canadian citizen and install himself comfortably in any position of high administration, as long as a foreigner goes to Ottawa to take the symbol of authority in the name of a foreign monarch, Canada will be trailed along behind Great Britain to serve Imperial interests.
“Canadians will be found, even French-Canadians, who by means of a bit of ribbon like the M.B.E. or the C.B.E. or other stupidities of the same nature, will be ready to declare themselves satisfied with their state of servitude. The only practical way for Canada to become independent is to declare a republic. We are republican because we know that the only practical way for Canada to release herself from tutelage of London is to break the bonds which attach her to the British crown... Le Devoir will favour, therefore, with all its strength, the man, the movements and the parties which pronounce themselves squarely for the Canadian Republic and which make it the object of their labours.
“There is no need of declaring that we intend to respect order and legality. The independence of Canada will be realized when the majority of Canadians wish it. Canadians will wish it when they understand the benefits to be drawn from it. It is a question then of a vast educational campaign to which we intend to give ourselves without ceasing.” (Translation by the “Gospel Witness”, Toronto, Ont.)
Some Canadians cannot understand why so many educated French-Canadians believe such anti-Canadian and anti-British ideas. The reason, in a nutshell, is that French-Canadian minds have received the same social and national education as the Roman priests have in Quebec colleges and seminaries. They have been taught to be auxiliaries and co-adjutors of priests.
The following article from Le Devoir will show how French-Canadians laymen are educated by priests in seminaries where Roman priests are trained to become preachers of Separatism and of the doctrine of the Papal State in Quebec–the new “Laurentia”:
“No one can contest the Church’s right to have houses for training priests. Now, our institutions of secondary education, with rare exceptions, have all been founded with a view to recruiting priests. It is only by toleration, so to speak, that they receive students who are not destined for the priesthood. This co-education of future priests with the young men who will form the elite of the nation may be a source of trouble in certain respects, but, notwithstanding, it presents so many advantages that the Church would doubtless hesitate a long time before making a segregation. The friendships which are formed at college last throughout life and are as valuable to priests as they are to the laymen.”
The result of this co-education of future priests with young men who will form the elite of French-Canadian laymen is interesting in many more ways than Le Devoir cares to admit. Of course it will forge many French-Canadian minds in such a shape that they will become fanatically pro-Roman and anti-British. They will be prepared to give up their Canadian heritage in favour of a “Papal Laurentia” in Quebec. They become, at any rate, extreme nationalists and very reluctant to co-operate with the English-speaking majority in Canada.
Others, however, will react very differently to this co-education with priests or future priests. Many young intelligent French-Canadians who have seen Romanism at close range in Quebec seminaries, understand that this system of educating French-Canadian laymen is not only antiquated, but is anti-Canadian and anti-Christian. These men are not deceived by the idea of Separatism, nor do they feel that they should accept all doctrines of the Hierarchy concerning education and national ideals as “Gospel Truth”.
We have mentioned the names of the courageous Senator Bouchard and the brilliant journalist Jean-Charles Harvey. They are but a few of the many educated French-Canadians today who were not duped by the education of Rome which has kept French-Canada apart from the rest of the Dominion for many years.
This co-education has not always produced the effects which Rome desired even in the field of religion.
The most outstanding French-Canadian critics or Romanism in Quebec are former students of priests in Quebec seminaries. In a city like Montreal, for instance, the so-called “anti-clericals” are mostly found amongst doctors, lawyers, journalists and business men who are the former pupils of Roman Catholic colleges and seminaries.
The French-Canadians in Quebec, who are both ardent Roman Catholics and anti-Separatists, are mostly those who never saw the inside of a Quebec-priest-controlled institution of superior education.
We shall conclude this chapter by mentioning one more aspect of the stupidity of the education dispensed to French-Canadians by Romanism in Canada. It concerns the French language.
French-Canadians are impressed with the idea that the French language is the safeguard of their religious beliefs and that they should promote it even at the expense of their knowledge of English or of any other social, financial or national advantages. French has become not a language, but a religion. The humble author of this book has just as much pride in his knowledge of French as any Quebec Bishop has. He loves his mother tongue and expects to speak it. We can love our native language and yet not necessarily use it for the propagation of a religious system which we have found to be false and contrary to our ideals of Christianity.
Roman priests teach that English-Canadians are anti-French and strive to segregate the two great Canadian races to foster Romanism by playing on the language feelings of French-Canadians. The fact is that English-speaking Canadians are not opposed to French as a language. They teach it in their high schools and universities. French is used alongside English on our Canadian money, stamps, postal money orders and other documents.
English-speaking Protestant Canadians, however, cannot be blamed if they object that French is driven down their throats when they know so well it is not the French language which is forced upon them, but really Romanism. As long as the French language is so married to the Roman Church in Canada, the French question will be alive in Canada. English-speaking Canadians are, therefore, not any more “fanatical” when they object to French than the French-Canadians are when they object to Protestantism.
It is false to believe, as some French-Canadians do, that the English language in Canada is to Protestantism what the French language is to Roman Catholicism. English in Canada is not the sole medium of speech of a religious denomination. It is the language of the masses; of business, financial and international communication. If the English language in itself were the medium of the propagation of Protestantism in Canada, we would not witness the struggle of English-speaking Canadian Roman Bishops to supplement French-Canadian Roman Bishops in certain dioceses and take so many pains to advance the policy at the Vatican of a stronger English-speaking Roman Hierarchy in Canada.
If it is true that the sole knowledge of the French language has saved many French-Canadians to Romanism, it is also a fact that many French-Canadians have not qualified for important positions on account of their lack of knowledge of the English language. Rome has saved them to Roman superstitions but at the price of their social, financial and national welfare.
In Quebec, however, the situation is somewhat reversed. The lack of knowledge of either French of English is not a serious handicap to business. We know and Irish Roman Catholic who has a store in Quebec City and does well, although he cannot understand nor speak French, but he is a Roman Catholic.
A French-Canadian Protestant who could speak French fluently, would starve from lack of business. The Protestant religion is the handicap, not the lack of a language, in priest-ridden Quebec.
After we left the priesthood we intended to apply for a certain position at Ottawa with the Canadian Government. Some vacancies were offered to French-Canadians who could qualify. We were told, however, that our application could not be considered until it was recommended by the Montreal Chamber of Commerce.
In Montreal, we interviewed a French-Canadian member of the Chamber who politely told us that since we had become Protestants, we were no longer representative of the French-Canadians and could not be recommended to a position where vacancies were offered to pure and orthodox French-Canadians only.
Our three centuries of French blood in our native Canada had vanished in the eyes of the Roman-educated representative of the Quebec Hierarchy, because we had become convinced that Romanism was not Christianity and we had embraced Protestantism.
Our readers might now have an idea of the education dispensed to French-Canadians by Rome, the mother of intolerance and the instigator of Canadian national disunity.