Twenty-first bishop of Quebec City and Primate of Canada (Jan. 25, 1956 to March 20, 1981); cardinal; b. cathedral parish in Quebec City, Jan. 5, 1905; d.1985. He was a distinguished prelate whose quiet pastoral style and careful intellectual approach earned him both national and international respect.
Roy did his baccalaureate studies at the Petit Séminaire in Quebec, graduating in 1923. He was ordained a priest in 1927, the same year that he earned a doctorate in theology from Laval University. In 1929 he completed doctoral studies in philosophy at the Angelicum University in Rome. He then went for further studies in philosophy and literature at the Institut Catholique and the Sorbonne in Paris.
He returned to Quebec City in 1930 and for the next nine years variously taught dogmatic and sacramental theology at Level and apologetics at the Petit Séminaire. He also served as Secretary of the Faculty of Philosophy at Laval.
With the outbreak of war in 1939 he enlisted as a military chaplain with the Royal 22nd Regiment and served Canadian troops in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Holland, and Africa. He was mentioned in despatches, was awarded the Cross of the K.B.E., and rose to the rank of Honorary Colonel.
At the end of the war he resumed his teaching responsibilities at Laval and was named to the position of Rector of the Grand Séminaire. However, within just a few months, on Feb. 22, 1946, he was named Bishop of Trois-Rivières, and assumed the role of military ordinary for the Canadian Armed Forces as well.
Upon the death in 1947 of Jean-Marie Rodrigue Villeneuve, Archbishop of Quebec, Roy was named the new Ordinary of Quebec, becoming Primate on Jan. 25, 1956. Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal in 1965. He was to serve as Archbishop of Quebec for 34 years, years of challenge, tumult, progress, and decline.
Role as Mediator. Roy was a consummate mediator. A personal friend of the controversial Union Nationale leader and Premier of Quebec, Maurice Duplessis, Roy played a pivotal role in laboring for a settlement of the disastrous Asbestos Strike of 1949. He was the principal mover behind the pastoral letter issued by the Quebec episcopate in 1959 on social and labor affairs. Roy exercised to a remarkable degree the pastoral function of reconciliation. This was especially important given the bitter struggles between the government of Duplessis, the Archbishop of Montreal, Joseph Charbonneau, and the fiery Dominican and social scientist, Georges-Henri Levesque.
In the 1960s Roy served on the Preparatory Commission on Church Doctrine for the Second Vatican Council and as President of two new post-conciliar dicasteries: the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace.
It was during his presidency of the Justice and Peace Commission that he issued his Message on the Second Development Decade (Nov. 19, 1970) to U Thant, Secretary-General of the United Nations, as well as his Reflections on the Occassion of the Tenth Anniversary of the Encyclical "Pacem in terris" of Pope John XXIII (April 11, 1973). It was also during his presidency of the Justice and Peace Commission that Pope Paul VI addressed to him his Apostolic Letter, Octogesima adveniens (1971).
During the "Quiet Revolution" in Quebec society in the 1960s Roy played, as Chairman of the Assemblée des évêques du Québec, a critical role in ensuring the pacific transfer into state hands of the public responsibility for schools, orphanages, hospitals, etc.
Cardinal Roy was a tireless worker and solicitous pastor, and yet during his long tenure as archbishop of Quebec he published only two pastoral letters: one on the Jubilee Year of 1950 and the other on fasting and abstinence in 1960. In his late years he manifested a post-conciliar penchant for delegating power.
See Also: canada, the catholic church in.
Bibliography: c. black, Duplessis (Toronto 1977). k. j. kirley, "Maurice Cardinal Roy: 1905–1985," Canadian Catholic Review (January 1986). j. racine, 'Le Cardinal Maurice Roy," Relations (December 1985).
[m. w. higgins]