Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger (1904-1991)
Modernization, democracy, equality and openness are terms that failed to spark unanimity within the Catholic Church in Quebec in the throes of restructuring during the Quiet Revolution. Cardinal Paul-Émile Léger, a more liberal and progressive man of the cloth than many of the clergy, made them his watchwords. After all, was he not a member of the Preparatory Commission of the Vatican II Council? Contrary to others, he was ready to make more room for laymen in the Church organization. Moreover, he was among the first to recognize that the object of marriage was not necessarily procreation.
Ordained to the priesthood in 1929, Paul-Émile Léger acceded to the title of Archbishop of the Diocese of Montréal in 1950, becoming a Cardinal less than three year later. In 1967, this Prince of the Church took everyone by surprise when he announced that he was leaving his prelate's seat to become a missionary among handicapped children in Africa. A few years later, he established a foundation to raise funds for Africans.