Jean-Claude Turcotte

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His Eminence
Jean-Claude Turcotte
Archbishop Emeritus of Montreal
Church Roman Catholic Church
Archdiocese Montreal
Province Montreal
Metropolis Montreal
See Montreal
Appointed 17 March 1990
Term ended 20 March 2012
Predecessor Paul Grégoire
Successor Christian Lépine
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e Santi Martiri Canadesi
Ordination 24 May 1959
by Laurent Morin
Consecration 9 June 1982
by Paul Grégoire
Created Cardinal 26 November 1994
by Pope John Paul II
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Born (1936-06-26)26 June 1936
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Died 8 April 2015(2015-04-08) (aged 78)
Montréal, Québec, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Denomination Roman 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 arms
Styles of
Jean-Claude Turcotte
Coat of arms of Jean-Claude Turcotte.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal

Jean-Claude Turcotte (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-Emile Turcotte. Turcotte attended Collège André-Grasset from 1947 to 1955, the Grand Seminaire 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.


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. He was appointed to:

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 selected Pope Francis.

Daniel Cere, head of the Newman Centre at McGill University, told The Toronto Star that Turcotte "is very much a pastoral figure, much like John Paul II."[citation needed] A Toronto priest told the newspaper he was "your man if you want a pastoral bon vivant Pope John XXIII figure."[citation needed] 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."[citation needed] 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.[3]



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”.[4] 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. The return of his insignia happened later than that of others who had protested against Morgentaler's entry because Turcotte had hoped that the Consultative Council for the Order of Canada would revise its decision. Eventually, fearing that his silence on the matter might be misinterpreted, Turcotte renounced his title Officer of the Order of Canada and returned his insignia.[5] This became effective on June 1, 2009.[6]

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.[7]

Political ties[edit]

In 2004, he criticized statements by former minister Sheila Copps about Turcotte's relationship with Pierre Trudeau.[8] He had been present at the state funeral of the former PM.

Women's ordination[edit]

Turcotte refused to accept the ordination of women after a local synod proposed the idea.[9]


  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
  3. ^ "Jean-Claude Turcotte, Former Archbishop of Montreal, Dies at 78". New York Times. Associated Press. April 8, 2015. Retrieved April 11, 2015. 
  4. ^ Antonio Lamer 'liberated' Canada for abortion
  5. ^ "Cardinal Turcotte gives back Order of Canada". CBC News. September 11, 2008. 
  6. ^ "Resignations from the Order of Canada". 
  7. ^ "I can understand abortion": Montreal cardinal
  8. ^ Copps 'facts' denied
  9. ^ ¨Montreal Catholics vote for women, married men as priests

External links[edit]

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