The role of religion in Lionel Groulx's religious nationalism


This is the title of the McGill University Ph.D. thesis in Religious Studies to be defended by its author, Norman Farrel Cornett, at 2:00 pm, Monday May 12, in the Senior Common Room of the Birks Building, 3520, University Street.

Abbé Lionel Groulx (1878-1967), a native of Vaudreuil, was an influential Québécois historian. He studied theology at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal and was ordained in 1903. He taught at the seminary of Valleyfield from 1903 to 1906 and then left Canada for Europe to study in Rome and Fribourg. He returned to teaching rhetoric and litterature at the seminary of Valleyfield (1909-1915) before being named to the Université de Montréal chair of history of Canada (1915-1950). Named honorary canon in 1943, Abbé Groulx was also the founding president of the Franco-American History Institute (1946) and director of the Revue d'histoire de l'Amérique française (1947-1967). Author of numerous novels, history books and articles, Lionel Groulx has had a profound influence on the intellectual and social life of his time. ( Source : Tour toponymique Les stations de métro, Communauté urbaine de Montréal, 1989).

However, most Quebeckers know Lionel Groulx as the author of these lines: .«Qu'on le veuille ou qu'on ne le veuille pas, notre État français, nous l'aurons; nous l'aurons jeune, fort, rayonnant et beau, foyer spirituel, pôle dynamique de toute l'Amérique française. [...] Les snobs, les bon-ententistes, les défaitistes peuvent nous crier, tant qu'ils voudront: "Vous êtes la dernière génération de Canadiens français!" Je leur réponds avec toute la jeunesse: "Nous sommes la génération des vivants. Vous êtes la dernière génération des morts!"»

Over the last decade a number of books have been published on the life and thought of Lionel Groulx. From Esther Delisle's "The Traitor and the Jew: Anti-Semitism and the Delirium of Extremist Right-Wing Nationalism in French Canada from 1929-1939" to Gérard Bouchard's "Les Deux Chanoines : Contradiction et ambivalence dans la pensée de Lionel Groulx ".

According to professor Maurice Boutin, the thesis advisor of Norman Cornett: "By studying the role of religion in Lionel Groulx's religious nationalist thought, Norman Cornett shows convincingly why one must study Groulx in view of the express purpose of his work, which aimed to provide an apologetic for the role of Catholicism in French Canada and for the role of French Canada in North America."