The Quebec [Marc] Ouellet returned to was almost unrecognizable. With the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, which he had spent in the relative isolation of the seminary, the Catholic Church no longer controlled the educational system, and church membership had plummeted from 99 percent in the late 1950s to 16 percent by 1990. The pill and abortion were legal, marriage was in decline and divorce on the rise, and the birth rate was low. Like the rest of Canada, Quebec was flooded with immigrants, many of them Hindus, Muslims, and Buddhists; it was no longer even remotely a homogeneous society. “We [Catholics] had never fought for our faith, because it was always part of our culture,” says Ouellet, “so at the time we didn’t fight for our faith, and I think we lost our balance. From a religious point of view, Quebec is a disaster.”
As the archbishop of Quebec and the primate of Canada (he was promoted to cardinal in 2003, giving him a vote in the election of the pope), he had the authority to make some changes. “I tried to take public positions, saying the government was very left wing, with a project for marginalizing the Church,” he says. He also challenged what he saw as lax practices within the clergy. One of his first acts after he returned to Quebec was to reverse the practice of communal absolution, common across the province partly because there were not enough priests, in favour of the more traditional individual confession. He hardly did so unilaterally ”” he went out to his dioceses and consulted with the priests ”” but, as Bishop GÃ©rald Cyprien Lacroix, who was recently appointed to replace Ouellet as archbishop, says, “It’s one thing to consult, another to make a decision,” and feathers were inevitably ruffled. Members of the Quebec priesthood were set in their ways and resistant to change, especially when it came from an outsider. “People saw me as a man from Rome,” Ouellet says, “but really I was a man from Jerusalem.”
Read it all (emphasis mine).