Montreal Religion Beliefs

Ever since the Nouvelle-France and the British Conquest, Montreal religion beliefs were and still are mainly focused on the churches and cathedrals gathered under the Catholic Church of Montreal founded in 1836 and under the Protestant religion and temples.

Since the beginning of the French and Catholic Nouvelle-France in the 1610s and since the English and Protestant British conquest in the 1760s, both languages as well as both religions, the Catholic religion and the Protestant religion still reflect our religions and spiritualities.

History of Religion

Historically and theologically, the prominence of the Catholic religion, the Protestant religion and the Judaism religion in our surroundings plays an important role in our definition of religions. 

Predominantly white Catholics, Protestants and Jews for many generations, we tend to lack both the personal and cultural capital to grasp the "principles" that pertain to immigrants and their religions. 

During the colonization of the Nouvelle-France in the early 16th century, the Roman Catholic Church played an important role in the survival of the French colonists.

After the British conquest in 1763, Quebec became a mission field for Protestants. They sought to win French Roman Catholics, but with partial success. 

Concentrated in a limited geographic area, protected by their language, their religion and their institutions, our ancestors developed their own ways and their own social customs and attitudes towards religion.

A few individual Jews have been recorded in the early period of the Nouvelle France and Jewish settlements seem to have begun in a small way soon after the capture of Quebec in 1760.

The very first Jewish congregation was formed in Montreal and Jews inaugurated their first synagogue, Shearith Israel in 1768 in the City of Montreal. An important element in the makeup of our Jewish community is the Hasidic Judaism, but most of our local synagogues are Orthodox.

Monotheistic Religions Beliefs

Christianity, a monotheistic religion, is based on the life and teachings of Jesus-Christ presented in the New Testament.

Christianity is divided into different religions and, in Montreal, Christians are mainly Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican.

The Judaism religion, again a monotheistic religion is based on the Hebrew Bible which has later been explored in various texts such as the Talmud. Judaism is either Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed or Secular. 

Islam, also a monotheistic religion is based on the Koran, the main religious text of the Islam religion. Muslims, the adherents of the Islamic religion are either Sunni or Shiite. In Montreal, their country of origin is mostly Morocco, Algeria or Lebanon.

Religion and Politics

Our long term evolution from one generation to another regarding politics and religion beliefs is taking new and contrasting avenues partly due to immigration and to the absence of religious affiliations by many of us.

Secularism is the absence of religious involvement in government affairs as well as the absence of government involvement in religious affairs.

In political terms, secularism is the separation of religion and politics. A secular government is non-religious, but not anti-religious and our cultural evolution now favours the secularism of our institutions with respect to religion. 

Religion and Spirituality in Christianity

Catholicism refers to Christianity that is to the communion with the pope and the Church of Rome and to the beliefs and practices of the Catholic Church.

Protestantism refers to the religious tradition of Western Christianity that rejects the authority of the pope of Rome. 

Religions are cultural and each religion has its own spirituality.

A catholic is a member of the Roman Catholic faith and an protestant is a member of a Western Christian church.

Development of Religion Beliefs

Probably as a result of the development of religion and spirituality within the evolution of our social generation, many of us no longer follow any religious affiliation or profess any religion belief.

Our parishes are abolished or merged, our churches are leased, sold or shared with other churches and our approach to religion and politics reflects a more contemporary sociocultural evolution. 

Saint-Octave Church - 550X412Saint-Octave Church - City of Montreal Est

Types of Religion Beliefs

Freedom of religion in Canada probably originated as early as 1759. A long term development of our religion beliefs within our freedom of religion from one generation to another is now taking us to new and contrasting avenues. 

On the one hand, a large number of Montrealers no longer have religion beliefs, on the other, different types of religion such as the religion of Islam, the Buddhism religion, the Hindu religion and the Sikh religion are more present in our church landscape. 

Church Landscape

Our Montreal religion beliefs keep shining through our church architecture and through our churches and cathedrals.

A church architecture that shines through a series of dynamic lines, assorted shapes and symbolic forms that our society has created over the years. 

Raising up churches and cathedrals relies upon capital, labor and technology while church interior design relies upon creativity, craftsmanship and skills. 

Our church architecture with its impressive structures, glorious church interior design, ornamented church floor plans, majestic ceilings and rich ornaments continues to offer an abundance of artistic qualities.

Religion Symbols

A church is either a building or the body of Christ. A basilica is a large and important church and a cathedral is the largest and most impressive church of the diocese.

An archbishop is a bishop of higher rank and an archdiocese is a larger and more important diocese. A diocese is a district divided into parishes or ecclesiastical districts. The diocese is under the authority of a diocesan bishop, while the parish is under the pastoral care of a parish priest. 

Religion and Spirituality

The spirituality, the "sacred" is related to religion beliefs and religion beliefs are related to religion symbols, that is to the tangible images or objects that express our mystical beliefs.

Montrealers may not be attending organized religious services like they used to, but this doesn't necessarily mean they are any less spiritual.

To get a more complete picture of Montreal religion beliefs, one must now compare public religious behavior such as attendance to religious services to private religious behavior such as prayer, meditation, worship and reading of sacred texts.

Montreal Religion Beliefs by Rachel Louise Barry