This is the latest installment from Frenchie on "The incredible adventures of Carmen and Kiko." The full version with all the installments can be found here.
We last saw that Carmen had succeeded to get the Okay from Cardinal Angello Dell'Acqua to start a new community in the Borghetto Latino, the destitute Roman neighborhood, similar to what they claimed to have achieved in Madrid, under the hospices of Archbishop Morcillo.
This was in 1967, and our intrepid companions were moving most of their operation to Rome in 1968.
What many observers of the NCW are puzzled with is how Carmen and Kiko were able to get the authorization from the same Cardinal to start their first community in the Parish of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament and Canadian Martyrs?
Why is this so puzzling you might ask since they already have authorization to work in the Borghetto?
Well, it is very simple. If you ever go to Rome and visit this modern Church in the Nomentano Neighborhood of Rome, you will see right away it is not a poor neighborhood. Actually it is what you can call a very well to do neighborhood.
So how did this man of 29 years old, who could not speak Italian, (still sketchy 48 years later) and this former nun succeeded in this coup?
The explanation to the mystery lies into the connections of Carmen once again.
La chiesa de Nostra Signora del Santissimo Sacramento e Santi Martiri Canedesi, happens to be the Church given to Cardinal Roy, Archbishop of Quebec, Primate of the Canadian Roman Catholic Church, Bishop of the Chaplains of the Canadian Armed forces, Participant in Vatican II, Member of the Council for Laity and of the Council for Justice and Peace. Later he will also become President of the Council on Family (this is important).
So what is the big deal? He was not Spanish or Italian, he was French Canadian right? Well, yes, but things are a lot more complicated that they seem.
Canada is a country of immigrants and it had welcome many Italian migrants chased by poverty and political persecution, as well as many Spaniards after the civil war.
So the Canadian, and the Quebec church in particular, were quite aware of the struggle of Catholics from Europe, and ministered to them the best they could.
Cardinal Roy himself was the product of the very traditional, some say ultra conservative Church of French speaking Canada. The Church there, had been an integral part of the French identity in a sea of English speaking and Protestant Churches.
They had become (almost by default) the cement of the French speaking Canadians, and the many "first nation" Catholics, that had been evangelized by "les robes noires" (the black robes).
The fact that Maurice Roy had been nominated Archbishop of Quebec and then Cardinal, had nothing to do with chance.
Maurice Roy, incardinated in 1927, was the son of a very prominent judge, who was also the Dean of the faculty of Law at the University of Laval, close friend of Maurice Le Noblet Duplessis,who happened to be the Godfather of Maurice. (hence his first name).
Mr Duplessis is a bigger than life political person of the Quebec and Canadian political scene.
An arch-conservative , Head of the conservative party, he was prime minister of Quebec from 1936 to 1939 ( and as such met and supported Francisco Franco, in Spain), and from 1944-1959 when he was he strong proponent to end the embargo against Spain.
This strong, anti-union, anti-communist leader, had his entries at the Vatican, and made sure that his protege had a stellar career.
Not long after his incardination in the Diocese of Quebec in 1927, Maurice Roy left for Rome to further his studies (Phd philosophy 1929), then Paris from 1929 to 1930 at the Sorbonne University and at the Catholic Institute.
We shall see why this is so crucial to have friends in the right place.