Guibord Affair

Guibord Affair One of the most dramatic incidents in the conflict between Catholicism and liberalism in Québec was the suppression by the bishop of Montréal of the INSTITUT CANADIEN. Founded in 1844, it possessed a library for the use of the members containing many books prohibited by the Roman Catholic Index of forbidden books. Bishop Ignace BOURGET regarded the activities of the society as dangerous to the faith of the French Canadians and its very existence as a challenge to the authority of the church. In July 1869 the bishop, supported by Rome, placed the Institut under an interdict. In Nov 1869 Joseph Guibord, who explicitly refused to renounce his membership in the Institut, died, and Bourget denied him burial in consecrated ground. That action opened more than 5 years of violent argument. A suit was brought against the bishop by Guibord's widow Henriette, and in 1874, after a series of appeals, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council ordered that Bourget's decision be reversed. Guibord's body meanwhile had been placed in a Protestant cemetery. But because of outraged feelings among Catholics in Montréal, an attempt at interment in the Roman Catholic cemetery on 2 Sept 1875 failed. It was finally accomplished on Nov 16 with an armed military escort. Even then Bourget had the last word. After the burial, he immediately deconsecrated the plot of ground where Guibord's body lay. The Institut canadien did not survive the affair. With only a handful of members remaining, it soon disappeared from public life.