Rome in Canada: The Vatican and Canadian Affairs in the Late Victorian Age

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University of Toronto Press, 1990 - History - 299 pages

In the three decades after Confederation, an aggressive Anglo-Saxon nationalism struggled to imprint its cultural model on the emerging Canadian state. It was countered by a defensive French-Canadian nationalism chiefly articulated by a majority within the Roman Catholic clergy. Robert Perin explores the role of the Vatican in the struggle and in the political, religious, and cultural life of Canada during the period.

Perin begins by charting the historical development of the Catholic church in Canada in its all-important regional dimension. He suggessts that Rome acted as another Canadian metropolis, where decisions conering the young country's future were taken by clerical bureaucrats, mostly Italians, who had never set foot in North America.

Rome and its apostolic delegates to the Canadian church took positions on a wide range of Canadian matters. They included the political controversies of the day, Catholic education (particularly after Manitoba abolished denominational schools), immigration, and the relations between the upper and lower clergy. Placing the discussion in international and diplomatic contexts, Perin finds that such questions as Catholic education and immigration were influenced by events in the United States as well as by interest groups in Great Britain and continental Europe.

Ultimately, the Vatican failed to support the French Canadians' brand of nationalism, despite the fact that they represented three-quarters of the Catholic population of Canada. That failure of support contributed to the victory of an Anglo-Saxon Protestant nationalist version of Canada.

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About the author (1990)

ROBERTO PERIN is a professor of history at York University.

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