Language, Ethnicity, and Region: Rome and the Struggle for Dominance of the Canadian Catholic Church, 1785–1930
Among the diverse ethnic and linguistic communities in Canada, Irish Catholics and Catholics of Irish descent have exerted a distinctive influence. Early Irish Catholic immigrants felt marginalized in a church which had hitherto been exclusively French-speaking and centred in Quebec. Resentment over real or perceived neglect led to successful appeals to Rome for separation from Quebec. As the Irish Catholic population grew, its leaders worked to extend their authority and control at the expense of their French-speaking co-religionists everywhere outside Quebec, by campaigning at Rome for the appointment of Irish candidates to existing and newly created dioceses. While this campaign was tied to the wider dream of building an Irish “spiritual empire” throughout the English-speaking world, it took on a specific and divisive character in the Canadian context where competing visions of the nation were at stake.