The clergy in 1980
Media version of texts courtesy of K. Napier’s class
In 1980, the influence of the Catholic Church had decreased significantly compared to what it was in 1905. First, the state had replaced religious institutions with secular institutions. Also, the population largely abandoned religious practices, and churches were emptying quickly. Between 1961 and 1971, it is estimated that religious practice in Quebec had dropped by 50% in Quebec.
New forms of spirituality
In 1980, many Quebeckers had given up religious practices. Although 88% of the population still identified themselves as Catholic, people no longer practiced in the same way and associated less and less with organized religions. Also, starting in the 1960s many members of the clergy returned to secular life, and not many young people were interested in becoming priests or nuns. In fact, the number of newly ordained priests dropped from 120 in 1961 to 20 in 1981. The result was that there were fewer and fewer members of the clergy in Quebec. The number of clergy had increased in the first half of the 20th century, with an increase from about 9 000 in 1901 to 25 000 in 1931 and 54 000 in 1960. This number dropped to about 33 000 in 1981.
Signs of the decline of the Church
In 1980, there were many signs that the influence of the Church was decreasing. In addition to finding that fewer and fewer people were attending Mass, many buildings belonging to the church were destroyed or changed vocation. For example, this is the case of several classical colleges which were transformed into colleges in the late 1960s. Another sign of the decline of the power of the Church was that the government took control of the health and educational institutions.
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