Thursday, November 22, 2007

An introduction is necessary, especially for those readers who are not Canadian (and to a large extent those who are not Quebecois). Marc Cardinal Ouellet is the Archbishop of Quebec City and the Primate of Canada. No monkey business with this primate. As the ranking Catholic cleric in Canada, and a known ultra-conservative, Cardinal Ouellet was considered for the papacy on the death of John Paul II. Over the past few weeks Quebec has been going though a travelling circus, the Bouchard-Taylor Commission, known by the shorthand of the "Reasonable Accommodation Commission". This set of hearings set up by Premier Jean Charest has been going from location to location hearing submissions from the public about what sort of "reasonable accommodation" Quebec should make to religious and ethnic minorities and to recent immigrants. The results have been an embarrassment for almost all political parties on the Quebec scene, and the majority of Quebecers as well, as the usual crowd of bigots have crawled out of their holes to acquire their 15 minutes of fame. One "witness", for instance, complained vigorously that 3 out of 9 of the justices on Canada's Supreme Court were Jewish. Not that extreme right wing opinions are more common in Quebec than elsewhere in Canada. It's probable that they are less so, but this commission has given them a forum that they lack on the ROC (Rest of Canada).
Just to compound the carnival atmosphere of the hearings it isn't just the tinfoil hat brigade that seem to be doing their best to do embarrassing pratfalls. Regular politicians, and so-called moderates, are lining up to make fools of themselves as well. Cardinal Ouellet was one of these when he testified at the Commission that what Quebec needed was "a renewal of its spiritual identity" ie to return to the bosom of Holy Mother Church. By some alchemy known only to clerics this would promote tolerance for Muslims and Jews- all history of the Catholic Church to the contrary. The Archbishop was particularly opposed to a proposed law that would remove the religious indoctrination, Catholic of course, that still exists in Quebec public schools and replace it with a neutral study of world religions. Molly was actually visiting Montreal when this affair took place, and the public reaction was hardly what the Cardinal might have wished. There was the usual and expected reaction from liberals and leftists who reacted with horror at the idea of dragging Quebec back to what is known as the Grande noirceur, the "Great darkness". What was worse for Ouellet was that he was far more mocked than attacked. He became a laughing stock. To add insult to injury his own attempt to steal the comedy spotlight was shot down on the very same day by a comment from a lawyer who lamented the fact that the Captain of the Montreal Canadians, Saku Koivu, barely spoke French at all after living many years in Quebec. This got far more play in the press, and it must have been rather disconcerting for the good Primate to find out that Quebecois care much more for hockey than for his opinions.
Never one to give up easily Ouellet, like a good Machiavellian, has decided to fire back recently with an 'open-letter' to the Quebec press asking for forgiveness for the past sins of the Church in Quebec. The full text of the letter can be read HERE in English. Cynics have noted that the Cardinal doesn't apologize for any sins that may have occurred after 1960, and that he reiterates his call for a return to the power of the Church in Quebec society. A half-apology at best. Here is the response of the Montreal NEFAC (North Eastern Federation of Anarchist Communists) on their blog. The original French version can be viewed there.
Cardinal Ouellet Asks for Forgiveness ?
"This morning in the mainstream press the archbishop, cardinal, primate of the Canadian Church (etc...) Mgr. Ouellet, has written a letter in order to ask forgiveness for the past mistakes of the Catholic Church in Quebec. In a letter marked by hypocrisy and false remorse Mr Turcotte (Molly Note: This reference was puzzling. I think it refers to an axe-murderer in BC in 2000. This man, Turcotte, hacked three men to death. Under questioning by the police he told them where to go to find the bodies and even volunteered the information that one of them was still alive when he left them, saying to send an ambulance too. The case became a "point of law" in the Supreme Court over whether "post-offence behavior" was admissible as evidence in a criminal case. The court decided that it was. The reference is probably to the idea that Ouellet's behavior is similar "post-offense behavior") excuses himself for all the horrors committed by the Church before 1960.
""As Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada I recognize that the narrow attitudes of certain Catholics before 1960 favoured anti-Semitism, racism, indifference toward First Nations (Another Molly Note: This is the first time that I have ever heard what the Catholic Church did to the natives described as "indifference". Time to run for the Gravol.) and discrimination against women and homosexuals. The behavior of Catholics and certain episcopal authorities with regards to the right to vote, access to work and promotion of women hasn't always been up to par with society's needs or conformed to the social doctrine of the Church.""
And carrying on further:
""I also recognize that the abuses of power and cover-ups have, for many, tarnished the image of the clergy and its moral authority;mothers have been rebuffed by priests without concern for their family obligations (Yet another Molly Note: This an euphemistic way of referring to the practice of threatening women with hellfire unless they had more and more children. This little piece of "Christian charity" was hardly confined to Quebec. It was once a very conscious and deliberate plan on the part of the Catholic clergy to increase their power by force of demographics. Outbreed them damn Prots basically) , youngsters were subjected to sexual aggression by priests and religious figures, causing great injury and trauma which have broken their lives. these scandals have shaken popular confidence towards religious authorities, and we understand this. Forgive us for all this pain.""
NEFAC then goes on to say:
"The attitude of the clergy concerning the rights of women, homosexuals, the rights of indigenous people, sexuality, immigration,etc. have changed after 1960 ? It is the same institution, but it now utilizes the mass media , of necessity, to give themselves a false good conscience. Moreover, he ended his letter by reiterating his demand for the government to restore religion in the schools. So much hypocrisy in one letter for a simple maneuver of clerical lobbying ? And you believe that we will give him permission again to destroy the brains of new generations with his lies ? 400 years of crime and horror by your institution in Quebec cannot be erased by one letter in the press as well powerful Cardinal...
Ni Dieu, Ni Maitre
After his first public embarrassment Ouellet is even being recognized as something of a loose cannon by other Catholic bishops. His title of "Primate" (Marc of the Jungle ?) of Canada is purely honourary, given because Quebec City is Canada's oldest diocese (the reference to 400 years in NEFAC's statement is to the fact that next year is the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec). Both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the association of Quebec Bishops issued statements last Wednesday saying that they refused to stand behind Ouellet's opinions. they also refused further comment. Ouellet himself promptly decamped to Rome upon the release of his letter. To lobby against his fellow bishops ? To get his ear twisted about continually making a fool of himself ? Did he plan the trip or was he called to the head office ? Ah, to be a fly on the wall at the Vatican. Ouellet himself undoubtedly feels himself to be a brilliant and masterful politician even as he digs his own hole deeper and deeper. There are many in the hierarchy who will be outraged that he has admitted anything at all. "Deny everything" is still a popular opinion amongst some clerics. Others who are more liberal will be embarrassed by his evasions, lies that are far too obvious for public consumption. In the internal politics of the world's oldest and largest transnational corporation Ouellet has placed himself brilliantly in a position to offend all sides at once. Look for an appointment to the Curia in Rome in his future. They will promote him to a position where he can do no harm by opening his mouth in private, and he will reach his level of incompetence.
Now, Molly is all in favour of those in the Catholic Church who want to truly see a proper reform of their faith. Good luck to them. One thing,however, can be said for sure. The very basis of such reform can be judged by how thoroughly such reformists renounce any and all pretensions to recover lost power for their Church. The political term is "revanchism", whereby nationalists harbour age-old grudges and dream of recovering lost territory for their country. Those who blatantly lobby for privileges for their denomination are not true reformists no matter how much they may bleat of contrition and speak in ways fashionable today of issues now in the public's eye. Their sincerity can be simply judged by their lust for power,and Ouellet is blatantly obvious. As Primate of Canada one can perhaps make a Biblical Canadian joke (bless you-eh) about him and say that he has the whole softwood lumber production in his eyes when he tries to preach morality.
For those of Molly's readers with a touch for the gruesome I urge you to consult the Wikipedia article on the 'Duplessis Orphans'. The basic story is simple. The children of unwed mothers were stolen from them by the Church, but the amount of money to be made from running a simple orphanage was insufficient, particularly as many might be adopted and thereby cease to be a cash-cow for the Church. In connivance with the Quebec provincial government of Maurice Duplessis the Catholic Church succeeded in defining large numbers of these children as "mentally ill" or "mentally retarded" thereby freeing up large amounts of money that flowed to the Church's coffers for their "treatment". The children subjected to extreme abuse, used as slave labour and were even the subject of far too many "medical experiments". Further money flowed to the Church via the latter. This story is, of course, familiar to those who have followed the outing of the Church sponsored residential schools for natives, minus the experiments part. What is most gruesome is the fate of those who died under such "care". The Church even made money off their corpses by selling them to medical schools. This thing continued into the 1960s, ie after the 1960 "cutoff date" cited by Ouellet. Have a look if you want to be grossed.
One final point before I sign off. How much of this is "in the past"? Can I suggest that imperial psychiatry and, much more emphatically imperial social work is doing today what the Catholic Church did in the past ? The object of the game is to expand the entrepreneurial opportunities, to make more and more money off more and more people. Think of the present fad of naming so-called "diseases" with an adjective called "spectrum". This is nothing more than a mendacious fudge that justifies the application of a poultice of government money. At least one of these attempts to psychiatrize the population may be even more absurd than the nonsensical fad of "satanic abuse" (now carefully consigned to the memory hole by social workers) that swept through the so-called helpers a couple of decades ago. Think FASD. The propaganda says that any woman who has a drink of two or ten when she is pregnant will produce babies that need the tender loving care of the state. Time for a common sense observation here. If this nonsense was true then the social workers of North America could quickly become millionaires by relocating to southern Europe where they could "save" the vast majority of the population. Are the social workers of today as violent and vicious as their forebears in the Churches were ? No, they are much too efficient for that. Kill your so-called "client" and you can't make any more money off that one. How much do our social welfare bureaucracies resemble the unlamented powerful Churches that some of us still remember ?

1 comment:

Werner said...

No kidding. Back in the nineteen eighties I was renting a house from a guy who worked as a labourer for the city of Regina. I got to know this person fairly well. At one point he was living with a native women who was unemployed. These two had a child between them. In addition she had one kid from a previous boyfriend. The women collected welfare which was not anywhere near enough money to live on. Even the fuckhead social workers admitted this, I was told. The boyfriend used to buy stuff like groceries for her. As usual in these cases the difference between incomes plus a large dollop of 'good old' Regina racism was in evidence. Eventually the relationship broke up and the woman was on her own. As is usually the case in these situations "Welfare Day" is the time that all the other "friends" of this now single woman would come around and drink. One thing lead to another and the social workers came around and stole both her children. The two of these were put in some "foster" home which, as normal people would expect, are just excuses to collect a cheque (why didn't they just give her more money????,etc.) for some local racketeer who knows how to work the system. Later there was a fire in the house and both kids were killed. Apparently the one four year old almost made it to the front door but died before he could get out. The baby, who was the child of my former landlord, died in his crib. The former couple approached a local rich lawyer to lay a charge against the Department of Social Services. He wasn't interested in working Pro bono. Lots of luck ... but no luck. This story I posted over on Carnival of Anarchy in January.