A Piece of Us on Saint Peter’s Seat

A Piece of Us on Saint Peter’s Seat

By Farnell Morisset
Modern CatholicismLike the majority of Québécois of my age, I tend to watch the antics of the Catholic Church in more or less the same manner as that never-married great aunt who tries to give my sister relationship advice at a family picnic.  It’s quaint and I’m sure she means well, but I just can’t shake my memory of the funny smells and weird old hats littering her home, so I never visit.  If she weren’t old family, we’d have no reason to talk at all.

So it was with a kind of homely amusement that I woke up this morning to learn that the Pope was… retiring?  Stepping down?  Abdicating?  Media outlets didn’t seem quite sure what the proper term was, but it didn’t even take them until breakfast to dub His Holiness Ex-Benedict”.  This is the first time since the 15th century that a Pope steps down before his death, which might seem like a big deal, but then you’ve got to realize this is the first time ever that a Pope has been on Twitter and that doesn’t seem to surprise anybody.

Officially, the Holy Father is citing his age and lack of energy as reason.  The suddenness of this decision combined with the vagueness of the reason leads me to doubt that there isn’t some Dan Brown-esque power play going on behind the scenes, but really, the functioning of the Catholic Church’s highest echelons of divine authority are about as open to us as North Korea’s.

Or at least I thought it was, until news emerged that former Archbishop of Québec Cardinal Marc Ouellet was one of the top contenders for the seat of Saint Peter.  Monseigneur Marc Ouellet is apparently a rising star in the Vatican – which is only surprising insofar as the Vatican actually has “rising stars”.  By mid-afternoon, the hot topic was what this would mean to the ever-weakening institution of Catholicism in Québec.

Well, if there’s one page we can take from the Church’s advice book, it’s to keep tradition and history close at hand.  After all, soon-to-be-Ex-Benedict hailed from Germany, which is not exactly a country renowned for its historical support of the Pope.  Before him, John-Paul II was named Pope while his native Poland was still officially a “religion-free” communist state.  Give credit where credit is due – the Catholic Church doesn’t make political nominations that pander to nationalistic sentiment.

At this point, of course, it’s only speculation, but if Cardinal Ouellet does become the next Pope, what will that actually mean for Catholicism in Québec?  The values of the Catholic Church – the ones Monseigneur Ouellet staunchly advocated for during his time as Archbishop – are increasingly irreconcilable with those of modern Québec.  No, I think we can all be fairly certain having a boy from Abitibi on the Holy See isn’t going to make us embrace abstinence or restore the tithe.

Rather, I hope for the opposite.  If he does become Pope, I hope Monseigneur Ouellet will rather take some of Québec with him to the Catholic Church’s highest office.  I don’t mean to expect the Church will back off on homosexuals or allow for the use of condoms overnight following the election of Pope Ouellet – not if his ultraconservative record is any indication, at least – but rather I would like to think he would, at the very least, remember how quickly power slipped from the Catholic Church’s hands here – over his own lifetime, no less – and avoid repeating the Church’s mistakes with its other devotees.

And that would be something we could be proud we did for our old family, wouldn’t it?

The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author’s, and are not necessarily shared by the staff and owners of LifeinQuebec.com.


About the author:

Farnell is passionate about discussing (amongst other things) the issues of modern social identity for many Québécois who, like him, feel deeply connected to the Québécois nation and culture yet do not identify with the traditional francophone non-practicing Catholic nationalist image.

He is also alarmed by what seems to be an invasive and aggressive polarization of complex social issues for which there are no black-and-white answers. This eventual identity crisis, he feels, will only be solved through good faith in, and honest communication with, all sides pulling on our ever dwindling “pure laine” blanket.

It is with this in mind that he contributes to LifeinQuebec.com as a valued member of our, in-house, writing team.

Categories: News

About Author

Farnell Morisset

Farnell Morisset has an engineering degree from Université Laval and common law and civil law degrees from McGill University, where he also studied economics.

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