- Sir Wilfrid Laurier
- The Young Liberal: “Rouge and Separatist”
- The Pragmatist: Canada After Confederation
- The Prime Minister: The Man of Challenges
- The Prime Minister: Architect of Modern Canada
- The Prime Minister: External Relations
- Leader of the Opposition
- Laurier in History
Relations with Authorities of the Roman Catholic Church
After the lessons learned from frequent interventions by Roman Catholic authorities in political affairs (at the time of his defeat in a Drummond-Arthabaska by-election in 1877 and in the case of the Manitoba school crisis), Sir Wilfrid LAURIER wanted to install an intermediary between the episcopate and his government. For their part, in 1897, the Catholic bishops, concerned about maintaining their influence in the political arena, sent the Dominican Dominique-Ceslas GONTHIER to Rome.
“On 29 May 1897 Gonthier left New York for Rome; there, at Bégin’s request, he was to look after the interests of the French Canadian bishops, who were disconcerted by the apparently favourable attitude toward liberals of Rafael Merry del Val, the apostolic delegate then inquiring into the religious situation in Canada. Gonthier’s mandate was a heavy one. He had to block the nomination of Bishop Joseph-Médard
The situation is summed in the following excerpt from the biography of Adélard LANGEVIN, archbishop of Saint-Boniface, Man.:
“Laurier had managed to convince Rome that the [Manitoba schools] issue was one involving relations not only between the Catholic minority and the Protestant majority, but between the dominion and the British empire. Officials at the Holy See were persuaded that diplomatic considerations should override strictly moral ones. The archbishop was therefore not consulted in the intense negotiations carried on between Laurier and Merry del Val. He would also be largely marginalized by the first two resident apostolic delegates, Diomede Falconio and Donato Sbarretti y Tazza, who were led to believe that Laurier’s sunny ways would effectively restore Catholic rights.”
For more information on relations between Laurier and the authorities of the Roman Catholic Church, we invite you to read the following biographies.