It is sad to see old churches being closed, such as Saint-Charles in Ottawa — once a blazing hearth of faith to French Canadians on this Anglo side of the Ottawa River, now dry bones. It is the latest in that benighted archdiocese to be sold to the developers, for the price of the land. (Four million!) Soon Ottawans will be driving by another glitzy new box of “condoms,” for their new age of condominium living. The press release praises this developer’s “creative plans.” Perhaps he will retain a piece of the old tower to give his flats that upmarket, “heritage” touch.

But as my correspondent said, the building had already been “re-purposed”; or as I tend to put it, “V-2’d.” It is the same story everywhere: the old altar, rails and kneelers ripped out, along with any other “traditional” furnishings; the confessionals closed then eliminated; the liturgy stripped down from Chant to karaoke; the gorgeous old lectionaries and missals pulped; the frescoes painted over, the statues broken off and dump-trucked to the landfills. New priests, with the intellectual reach and spiritual depth of sociology majors — and not a word of Latin — do their part to finish the job in the souls of the parishioners themselves. As a last gesture the “liturgists” arrive, from central casting, to scour the place of any surviving trace of its Catholic past. In approximately 100 percent of cases, the congregation fades away.

In the case of Saint-Charles, the wreckers arrived in 1969. In the glib words of its potted history: “Originally, the church was ornately decorated, but … it underwent extensive renovations and lost most of its decorations, gaining a more modern and sober look.”

It was from this little church that Father Francois-Xavier Barrette launched, in 1926, the Commandeurs de l’Ordre de Jacques-Cartier, an “all-male … secret society” (as one reads in standard Internet sources, culled from the old anti-Catholic sources). … Yes, we are a big Secret Society, with many more Secret Societies within, and our subtle trick is to meet openly. As Agatha Christie would say, “The place to hide a needle is in a box of needles.” …

By the early 1960s, this Ordre de Jacques-C had more than forty thousand members, in more than a thousand communities, advancing the interests of French-speaking Catholics across Canada and New England, and defending them against Masonic and Orange persecutions. About 1965, it suddenly imploded, leaving the expression of French identity to the monopoly of anti-clerical separatists in Quebec.

Now even the little church in which they started is put out for dog-meal.

The operation continues. The bureaucrats from archdiocesan central instinctively target any church with a thriving congregation — and thus, inevitably, a reputation for foot-dragging, pre-Vatican-II ways. A new rector will appear (“wrecktor” I like to type), to make “a few changes,” and bring the place in line with the latest “policies.” The phenomenon is hardly restricted to Ottawa; I get the same news from across Canada and those USA. And every church is doomed, from the moment this cancer has been implanted. … Let me stop this recitation here.

For again, as I have been arguing lately, faithful Catholics must not despair. The devil will surely have his day, but he has no tomorrow. The liberal priests cannot replace themselves, for from the moment they get their claws into a parish, there will be no new vocations. Liberalism can destroy, but is absolutely incapable of building. The dead will bury their dead, and the living will rise.

It is better than that, for as I am persuaded, Christ will snatch from the jaws of Hell any one of the lost souls, who shows some sign of genuine contrition.


Meanwhile, in breaking ecclesiastical news, I see that Pope Francis has sent his Curia off to Christmas with “sixteen paragraphs of sustained and immoderate abuse” (Hunwicke). The poor man seems unable to please me. While I, too, might have derived warm emotional satisfaction from having a go at those Red Hats — who, to the best of my knowledge, persistently sabotaged the papacy of Benedict XVI — I truly do not think the Church can benefit from these endless, theatrical, headline-grabbing displays. That, should anyone care to know, is my first and principal criticism of the current Roman regime: not that the Pope is especially “heretical,” or a “bad man,” or whatever, but that he is reckless, imprudent.