Official Biography - Catholic Church of Montreal

His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte

His Eminence Jean-Claude Cardinal Turcotte was born in Montréal on June 26, 1936. He attended Collège André-Grasset from 1947 to 1955, after which he obtained a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Grand Séminaire de Montréal. He was ordained to the priesthood May 24, 1959 in Saint-Vincent-de-Paul church (Laval) by Bishop Laurent Morin, auxiliary bishop of Montréal.

From 1959 to 1961, he was curate at Saint-Mathias-Apôtre Parish. In 1961, he was appointed assistant diocesan chaplain of the Young Christian Workers. In 1964, upon his return to the archdiocese from a year of studies at the Catholic Faculties of Lille in France, he was named diocesan chaplain of JICF (Jeunesse indépendante catholique féminine) and of the Christian Worker Movement.

From 1967 to 1974, he was responsible for a number of areas within the Office for Clergy. In 1974, he became director of the Office for Parishes, and in 1977, he was named diocesan bursar. Archbishop Paul Grégoire appointed him Vicar General of the archdiocese and general co-ordinator for pastoral activities, September 25, 1981.

Pope John Paul II promoted him April 15, 1982, to the see of Suas and to the office of Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal. The Episcopal ordination was conferred to him by Archbishop Paul Grégoire, June 29, 1982. He was the Québec Bishop’s delegate to the provincial government on the occasion of the papal visit to Canada in 1984. He was also responsible for the co-ordination of the visit in the Archdiocese of Montréal. Pope John Paul II named him Archbishop of Montréal, March 17, 1990.

He attended the 8th World Youth Day, held in Denver, Colorado, in August 1993. While in attendance, he presented a catechetical teaching in French. In October 1994 he took part, in Rome, in the Synod of Bishops on “The Consecrated Life and its Role in the Church and in the World”. The pope announced his elevation to the rank of Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church, October 30, 1994. He became a member of the College of Cardinals, November 26, 1994, in Rome. December 12, 1994, the Holy Father appointed him to two curial postings: the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

June 6, 1995, he received a Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa, degree from McGill University of Montréal. He was elected vice-president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, October 1995. In the spring of 1996, he was appointed by Rome to the Prefecture of Economic Affairs of the Holy See. 

In August 1997, he went to Paris to participate in the XIIth World Youth Day, where he was invited to give a catechetical teaching. A few months later, in October 1997, he was elected president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops for a two year term. The same year he took part in the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops. The Pope named him President for the Final Message Commission. He actively took part in the World Youth Day in Rome (2000), in Toronto (2002) and in Köln (2005). On each occasion, he gave two catechetical sessions.

In June 2007, to acknowledge his work as Archbishop of the Catholic Church of Montreal and his commitment to the religious, spiritual and philanthropic activities, Concordia University of Montreal decreed him a Doctor of Law honoris causa degree. In May 2009, he was appointed member of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In 2010, the Cardinal took part in the papal conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI.

In June 2011, having reached the age of seventy-five, Cardinal Turcotte handed Pope Benedict XVI his resignation. It was accepted in March 2012 with the nomination of a new archbishop, the Most Reverend Christian Lépine.

His episcopate was marked by numerous events, notably the canonization of Brother André in 2010. In 2013, Cardinal Turcotte participated in the papal conclave that led to the election of Pope Francis.

Working closely with community organizations, he promoted several of them and presided over a blood drive held yearly on Good Friday.

A renowned communicator, he worked extensively with the media and presided over annual collections that were promoted with the use of bold advertising concepts.