Quiet, and not entirely a revolution

Claude Ryan, and Quebec Catholicism’s last stand

Claude Ryan is a complex figure in a number of ways. A devout Catholic who briefly attended a monastery and worked for Church organizations for years, he never became a priest. Never having been a reporter or columnist, he became an editor and then publisher—and a confidant to those in power. Despite his personal individualism, he fought for a more hierarchical interpretation of the relationship between Catholics and their Church. And, as Quebec went through its rapid transformation to becoming a deeply secular society, he remained a profoundly Catholic figure. Stubborn and at times abrasive, he was an unlikely politician, becoming the leader of the Liberal Party of Quebec in 1978, two years after he endorsed the Parti Québécois. Three years younger than René Lévesque and six years younger than Pierre Elliott Trudeau, he seemed somehow a generation older. Quebec’s most pungent critic of the Parti Québécois language...