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Le mariage, c’est l’affaire de l’Église : pouvoir d’État et bigamie

  • Mélanie Méthot (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

Bigamy has been a crime against morality since the earliest days of New France. Of the 385 cases identified in our study of bigamy in Quebec (1763–1960), although priests were often called on to attest to the validity of a marriage or the morality of their parishioners, very few of them played the role of informer. Rather, they turned to the criminal courts only when they were unable to quell a scandal by their own methods. It is apparent that not only did the Catholic Church prefer to handle this offence against monogamous marriage by itself, but most importantly, given the small number of cases taken before the criminal courts, it continued to exercise its monopoly over the institution of matrimony during the first half of the twentieth century, even though the civil authorities sometimes flouted canon law. At the individual level, we would note that the institution of marriage remained fundamental throughout the period studied.

Résumé

Depuis le tout début de la Nouvelle-France, la bigamie a constitué un crime contre les mœurs. Dans notre étude sur la bigamie au Québec (1763-1960), des quelques 385 cas répertoriés, bien que les prêtres soient souvent appelés pour attester de la validité d’un mariage ou du caractère moral de leurs paroissiens, très peu d’entre eux jouent le rôle de délateur. Ils ne se sont effectivement tournés vers les tribunaux de juridiction criminelle que lorsqu’ils n’ont pas réussi à faire taire le scandale par leurs propres moyens. On s’aperçoit que non seulement l’Église catholique a préféré gérer seule cette offense au mariage monogame, mais surtout, étant donné le nombre limité de causes portées devant les tribunaux criminels, qu’elle a continué d’exercer son monopole sur l’institution matrimoniale au cours de la première moitié du vingtième siècle, cela même si les autorités civiles ont parfois fait fi du droit canonique. Sur le plan de l’individu, notons que le mariage est resté tout au long de la période étudiée une institution fondamentale.

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Canadian Journal of Law and Society / La Revue Canadienne Droit et Société
  • ISSN: 0829-3201
  • EISSN: 1911-0227
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-law-and-society-la-revue-canadienne-droit-et-societe
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