Jean-Claude Turcotte

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Jean-Claude Turcotte
Archbishop Emeritus of Montreal
Jean-Claude Turcotte.jpg
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed17 March 1990
Term ended20 March 2012
PredecessorPaul Grégoire
SuccessorChristian Lépine
Other postsCardinal-Priest of Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e Santi Martiri Canadesi
Ordination24 May 1959
by Laurent Morin
Consecration9 June 1982
by Paul Grégoire
Created cardinal26 November 1994
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Born(1936-06-26)26 June 1936
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Died8 April 2015(2015-04-08) (aged 78)
Montréal, Québec, Canada
DenominationRoman Catholic
Previous post
  • Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal (1982–1990)
  • Titular Bishop of Suas (1982–1990)
  • President of the Canadian Episcopal Conference (1997–1999)
  • Servir le Seigneur dans la Joie
  • ("Serve the Lord in joy")
Coat of armsJean-Claude Turcotte's coat of arms
Styles of
Jean-Claude Turcotte
Coat of arms of Jean-Claude Turcotte.svg
Reference styleHis Eminence
Spoken styleYour Eminence
Informal styleCardinal

Jean-Claude Turcotte (French pronunciation: ​[ʒɑ̃ klod tyʁkɔt]); 26 June 1936 – 8 April 2015) was a Canadian Roman Catholic cardinal. Upon his elevation into the cardinalate he was made the Cardinal-Priest of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and the Holy Canadian Martyrs. He was the Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal from 1990 to 2012, and was succeeded as Archbishop by Christian Lépine.


Early life and priesthood[edit]

Jean-Claude Turcotte was born on 26 June 1936 as one of seven children to Paul-Émile Turcotte. Turcotte attended Collège André-Grasset from 1947 to 1955, the Grand Séminaire and the Université de Montréal, where he graduated with a degree in theology.[1]

He was ordained as a priest on 24 May 1959 after the completion of his studies for the priesthood. He went to Lille for further studies from 1964 to 1965. In 1965 he earned a diploma in social ministry in Lille, France.


On 14 April 1982, his appointment as the Titular Bishop of Suas (a titular see in what is now Tunisia) and Auxiliary Bishop of Montreal was announced. He was consecrated on 29 June that year in the cathedral of Montreal. When Pope John Paul II visited Canada in 1984, Turcotte organized his visit to Montreal.

Ordination history of
Jean-Claude Turcotte
Episcopal consecration
Consecrated byPaul Card. Grégoire (Montreal)
Date29 June 1982
Episcopal succession
Bishops consecrated by Jean-Claude Turcotte as principal consecrator
Vital Massé (Auxiliary Saint-Jérôme aux.)8 December 1993
Neil E. Willard (Montreal aux.)15 August 1995
André Rivest (Montreal aux.)15 August 1995
Anthony Mancini (Montreal aux.)25 March 1999
Louis Dicaire (Montreal aux.)25 March 1999
Luc Cyr (Valleyfield)17 June 2001
Émilius Goulet (Saint-Boniface)16 September 2001
André Gazaille (Montreal aux.)25 March 2006
Lionel Gendron (Montreal aux.)25 March 2006


Turcotte was appointed Archbishop of Montreal on 17 March 1990. John Paul II appointed him a Cardinal-Priest of the titular church of Nostra Signora del SS. Sacramento e Santi Martiri Canadesi in the consistory on 26 November 1994.

After his elevation to the cardinalate, he was appointed to several departments of the Roman Curia:

From 1997 to 1999, he served as the president of the Canadian Episcopal Conference. Cardinal Turcotte participated in the 1993, 1997, 2000, and 2002 World Youth Days.

Cardinal Turcotte was known for his work with the poor and wrote a weekly religion column in the Sunday edition of the Journal de Montréal. In 1997, he gave his opinion about Quebec being a distinct society.[2]

He was a voting member (cardinal elector) of the College of Cardinals in the 2005 papal conclave. Margaret Hebblethwaite, co-author of the book The Next Pope, identified him as papabile. Other books and the BBC also identified him as a long-shot possibility for Pope.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that elected Pope Francis.[3]

Nicole Fournier, who led the Accueil Bonneau organization for the homeless, said that he "watched over people with a look that was never judgmental, ... (and) supported many social causes, especially those touching the less fortunate, notably the homeless."[4] John Allen wrote in the 2002 book Conclave that Turcotte was seen as a "diamond in the rough, a potentially magnificent leader who is still finding his way."[5] His lack of proficiency in the Italian language, as well as his lack of international experience, were seen as shortcomings.


Turcotte died at the age of 78 in Montreal on 8 April 2015.[6]



In 2007, Turcotte presided over the funeral of Supreme Court judge Antonio Lamer, who controversially decided to remove all restrictions to abortion in Tremblay v. Daigle in 1989. At the funeral, Turcotte praised Lamer as "a giant of the law" and a man "who worked a great deal for justice".[7] He was not, however, directly addressing the subject of abortion when he spoke those words.

On 11 September 2008, Turcotte returned his Order of Canada (appointed in 1996) insignia in protest of the induction of pro-choice activist Henry Morgentaler on 1 July 2008. Turcotte had hoped that the Consultative Council for the Order of Canada, but when it did not, Turcotte renounced his title Officer of the Order of Canada and returned his insignia.[8] This became effective on June 1, 2009.[9]

In 2009, Turcotte said in an interview that "I can understand that in certain cases, there is almost no other choice than to practice (abortion)", which was seen as controversial in light of his previous condemnation of Morgentaler.[10]

Political ties[edit]

In 2004, he criticized statements by former minister Sheila Copps about Turcotte's relationship with Pierre Trudeau.[11] He had been present at the state funeral of the former Prime Minister.

Women's ordination[edit]

Turcotte refused to accept the ordination of women after a local synod proposed the idea.[12]

Brian Boucher controversy[edit]

On November 25, 2020, a report was released detailing how a Catholic church-commissioned investigation led by Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo found that Turcotte was among the former Archdiocese of Montreal officials who took no action against pedophile priest Brian Boucher after receiving reports Boucher sexually abused boys.[13] Boucher later pled guilty in January 2019 to sex abuse charges and received an eight-year prison sentence.[13]


  1. ^ Fitterman, Lisa (8 April 2015). "'People's priest' Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte spoke in language of hope". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 9 April 2015.
  2. ^ Cardinal Turcotte on Quebec independence Archived 2012-04-28 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "List of Cardinal Electors". Zenit. 12 March 2013. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
  4. ^ "Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte remembered at funeral in Montreal | The Star". Retrieved 2018-07-18.
  5. ^ Allen, John (2002-06-11). Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election. New York: Image. ISBN 9780385504539.
  6. ^ "Jean-Claude Turcotte, Former Archbishop of Montreal, Dies at 78". New York Times. Associated Press. April 8, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2015.
  7. ^ Antonio Lamer 'liberated' Canada for abortion Archived 2009-03-29 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Cardinal Turcotte gives back Order of Canada". CBC News. September 11, 2008.
  9. ^ "Resignations from the Order of Canada". Archived from the original on 2009-06-06.
  10. ^ "I can understand abortion": Montreal cardinal Archived 2009-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Copps 'facts' denied Archived 2005-01-12 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ ¨Montreal Catholics vote for women, married men as priests
  13. ^ a b Shingler, Benjamin (November 25, 2020). "Report blames top Montreal Church officials for ignoring complaints about priest who preyed on young boys". CBC News. Retrieved November 30, 2020.

External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Paul Grégoire
Roman Catholic Archbishop of Montreal
Succeeded by
Christian Lépine