I met a man on Sunday who is from a small town, four hours northeast of Montreal, Quebec. He is a French Canadian and was raised Roman Catholic as has been the norm traditionally in Quebec and it was very interesting to listen to him. He went to Toronto for medical training as an adult in the early 1980s and while he was there, he was invited to a Bible study. As he began studying the Word of God, he was struck by the great differences between what he had been taught as a Catholic and what the Bible said. He said that going to the Roman Catholic Church was essentially all ritual. You stand up, you sit down, you kneel, you make the sign of the cross, etc. The priest would read small portions of the Bible. He said he would leave the services empty and spiritually unfulfilled. He declared that now the Church of Rome does have some Bible studies but they are “guided” studies, as the Church doesn’t want people to read the Bible by themselves, and evidently come to the “wrong” conclusions.
This gentleman was very interested in the message of the Bible at the time he began to study and he embraced and received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and became a Protestant. He told me that in his opinion, one could not be a real believer in Christ, a Christian, and stay in the Church of Rome.
As a result of what the Catholic Church did in Quebec through its time there, Quebec citizens have, in very large part, rejected the Church of Rome today and are turning to things like eastern religions / mysticism. This gentleman told me residents will generally go to this Church on special occasions like weddings, funerals, which lines up with other accounts I have read. He said such attendance for people in Quebec is like a habit that is not easily broken.
This man had never heard of Charles Chiniquy as a Catholic but became aware of the clergyman, when he became a Protestant. This ignorance of the significant Quebec figure sort of goes along with what I have heard from others. A Canadian Senator from Quebec, a Catholic, I have been in touch with, had heard of Chiniquy. She said it was a legend that she vaguely remembers, adding that it is less a religious phenomenon and more folkloric.
She relayed to me that she was born and raised in a little town in Quebec. The parish priest for a number of years was one of her relatives. Though he was very conservative, she couldn’t remember anything said about Chiniquy from the pulpit. As a child though, she recalls Chiniquy’s name, when mentioned, had a negative connotation. Her impression was that Charles Chiniquy was not a good person but with no reason being given for why this would be.