Last October, Statistics Canada published a study about the societies of Canada and Quebec. We find in that study troubling figures about the distinctiveness of Quebec, the highest rate of children born out of wedlock, the highest rate of cohabitations, the highest rate of divorce. Is moral decadence the new distinctiveness of Quebec society?
The rate of cohabitations is particularly bad: 29.5 per cent compared to 11 per cent for the rest of Canada and eight per cent for the U.S. With the condition of the family in Quebec, it is not surprising to see the appalling abortion rate, which has increased steadily since the legalization of abortion in Canada, from 7.3 abortions per 100 births in 1976 to 39.2 abortions per 100 births in 2000. We cannot separate the fight against abortion from the defence of the family.
It shows that the decadence of Quebec is not merely a phenomenon of the Western world. The situation is clearly worse in Quebec. It is especially dangerous for a small French society in an Anglo-American environment; it could be fatal for our society. In the same way that French-Canadian society was saved from extinction by its high moral standards and its high birthrate, it will die by decadence and apostasy. Even Premier Landry admitted last October that the situation of the family in Quebec was a subject of worry for him: “In the Quiet Revolution, we rejected our family values very quickly, whereas in France, which is a modern society, and in Sweden, which is also modern, they have been able at the same time to be progressive and to keep a birth rate that prevents them from dying.”
Since the 1960s, Quebec intellectuals have forgotten that Catholicism is an integral part of Quebec’s identity, just as much as the French language and culture. In 2000, the PQ government obtained an exclusion from article 92 of the Canadian Constitution protecting the Christian public schools in Quebec from the federal government. Later, the same government created a school system based solely on language. From the recent figures of Statistics Canada on the French language, we see that without Christian life Quebec has no future. Artificial mechanisms like #Bill 101 (the language law) will never be able to stop the slow death of French culture in Quebec.
Before 1960, Quebec was the only Catholic society in North America. Is this not its distinct characteristic? The Quiet Revolution was a naive entrance into modernity. Quebec intellectuals thought that we had to get rid of our Catholic heritage to be really modern. They forgot the importance of our spiritual roots. A tree without roots dies quickly. The eminent sociologist Fernand Dumont, an important figure in the Quiet Revolution, expressed at the end of his life his worries about the future of the French Canadian nation without the healthy influence of a vibrant religious tradition.
What was supposed to be an affirmation of nationhood in the Quiet Revolution became in the last years an open field for an American invasion. We have seen the invasion of the worst aspects of American culture, the materialistic and pragmatic way of life, the “McDonaldization” of the Quebec society. This is a generalized problem in the world, but has special intensity in a society without a soul, without a tradition. Whereas Americanization is superficial in a deep-rooted nation like France, Quebec seems to have become fundamentally contaminated. We have lost our soul because we have lost our faith.
In the years to come, hundreds of churches will be destroyed in Quebec. Just in Montreal, Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte has already announced that between 100 and 200 will be destroyed or sold in the near future. Where then will the “Ville aux cents clochers” (the 100-church tower city) be, as Montreal was known throughout North America? The loss of our churches is the best illustration of the loss of our soul, of our identity. We hope that the separatists will finally understand one day that a church in a city or village has more value than a French sign (and the prohibition of the English signs). Perhaps it will then be too late to save the nation from the American invasion and its melting pot model. As Father Lionel Groulx used to say at the end of his life, we must affirm that Quebec will be Christian or it will not be.