Catholic Rituals and Symbols in Government Institutions: Juridical Arrangements, Political Debates and Secular Issues in Quebec

Sunday, May 1, 2011

If Quebec’s state institutions are secular, some symbols and practices inherited from the province’s Catholic history remain in many of them (i.e: Assemblée Nationale; hospitals; City halls…). While the Supreme Court of Canada has long defined the principle of separation between Church and State, the presence of crucifixes or catholic rituals within these institutions certainly challenges the reality of State neutrality. Drawing upon juridical and political data (i.e: jurisprudence ; parliamentary debates ; public reports), I examine the dialectic relationship between juridical reasoning and recent political debates about the visibility of Catholic religious convictions in government institutions. In so doing, the research questions the equilibrium between the historical heritage of the majority of the population and the openness to religious diversity, thereby shedding a new light on state neutrality.

David Koussens

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