A History of Canada - Vol. 2

By Gustave Lanctot; Margaret M. Cameron | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
ECCLESIASTICAL ORGANIZATION
AND POLITICAL CRISIS
1663-1665

Mgr. de Laval and the Quebec Seminary. Centralization of the diocese. Fixing of tithes. Attitude of the Iroquois. Peace parleys. Dissension between the Governor and the Council. Imputations against Mésy. Intrigues of Villeray and Bourdon. Causes of their suspension. Mésy appoints a new Council. Protests of Mgr. de Laval. Death of the Governor. Judgment of Colbert.

While the colony was adapting itself to the royal régime, Mgr. de Laval's indefatigable apostolic zeal was laying the real foundations of the Church in Canada. The system of church organization which he adopted originated in the Council of Trent, but it had ceased to function in Europe. Instead of establishing permanent parishes, Mgr. de Laval created a seminary in Quebec in which he registered all the members of the secular clergy as they applied to him. From this seminary he sent out the priests required for the exercise of "functions, parochial and other," in the country. Any priest so appointed could be "transferred, recalled or dismissed" at the pleasure of the Bishop. All tithes were turned over to the Seminary to be "possessed in common and administered" by the Bishop, and the Seminary was required to provide subsistence "for all ecclesiastics, and to maintain them" in sickness and in health either in their residences or in its community. Only the Sulpicians in Montreal and the Jesuits were not subject to this rule of which the object was complete and absolute centralization, a dictatorship both spiritual and material. 1

The order establishing the Seminary was signed by Mgr. de Laval on March 26, 1663. In April it received royal sanction in letters patent, which fixed the tithes at a thirteenth part of "the fruit of man's labour" and "the natural product of the land." The

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