• Archdiocese

The follow-up and the end


Let's add a few words. Popular opinion had long spread the idea that Msgr. Lartigue had excommunicated certain leaders of the rebellion. Often questioned about whether to amend or annul this act, the Bishops of Quebec published (under the signature of their President, Msgr. Jean-Marie Fortier, then Archbishop of Sherbrooke) a document on March 27, 1987 entitled: The One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of the Rebellion of 1837. Msgr. Fortier wrote: “The offenders were neither excommunicated nor subjected to any ecclesiastical censorship whatsoever.”

What is true is that Msgr. Lartigue did not authorize the priests to bury “in their blessed cemeteries the bodies of those who had died with weapons in their hands.” It was a disciplinary measure that took place in a deeply religious environment where disobedience to the Church was scandalous or at least surprising. Msgr. Fortier notes that descendants of the Patriotes called for the burial of the remains of the victims with their own long-deceased relatives. He concludes, “It appears to the Church's authorities in 1987 that this prayer can be heard and answered…” today's bishops... “[believe] that God alone has judged the value of their lives (the Patriots) and knows how to appreciate their devotion.”

All this suggests that the pastoral action of the first bishop of Montreal ended in a climate full of suffering. He wanted to appease people by being there for the families who had suffered by interceding with the civil authorities to soften the pain and hardness of the prisoners' lives.

When Msgr. Lartigue died at the Hôtel-Dieu in Montreal on April 19, 1840, right as he approached his sixty-third year, the man “whom his country successively applauded, insulted, and blessed” received a deep mark of respect. At his funeral at the new Church of Notre-Dame, more than 10,000 faithful showed their respect for their bishop. So many were present the next day at Saint-Jacques Cathedral to join in the tribute paid by Msgr. Ignace Bourget, now coadjutor, to the first Bishop of Montreal.