Photo by Noah Holm on Unsplash

Editorial: A force for good

  • April 28, 2022

There’s a moving van load of unpacking to be done with new data delivered by the Angus Reid Institute and Cardus think tank on the state of organized religion in Canada.

One piece that falls right off the back of the truck and into our hands, however, is the finding that only three in 10 Roman Catholics agree religious faith does “more good than bad” in society. Flipped on its back, it means 71 per cent of Catholic believers believe more bad than good comes from being a believer.

So… nearly three-quarters of Roman Catholic believers believe belief is a bad thing to believe in? Hmmm. Hold that up to a mirror and see if it somehow makes more sense backwards.

Perhaps its pretzel logic can be traced, in part anyway, to demographic Catholics who swell the number count of the Church within the overall population, but who haven’t been inside a church since the first Sunday after their baptism. (We’re mostly looking at you, Quebec — don’t take it personally.)

However, the ARI-Cardus numbers show surveyed Catholics — nominal, devout or otherwise — are more critical of specks in the eyes of other religious faithful than of the logs in their own. As the pollster-think tankers put it: “Canada’s largest religious group — Roman Catholics — are more likely to perceive Evangelical Christians, Muslims and Sikhs as doing more harm than benefit to the social fabric of the country but view other faiths positively.”

Yet to the extent the data reveals a state of serious self-recrimination within the ranks of Roman Catholics ourselves — it’s safe to assume it does given that both ARI and Cardus are serious organizations worth heeding — we should take it as a call to unpack the sources rather than merely wallowing in either self-pity or self-loathing.

The instantaneous, and therefore impeccably trendy, place to point fingers, of course, is at the Church’s self-confessed sins of priestly sex abuse and its implication in suppression of Indigenous life. There is no avoidance of responsibility for those inexcusable events. At the same time, there is no onus on the Church to let hostile secular critics, for example, undermine our faith because of any imperfection in our response to that responsibility. Christ calls us to love our enemies. He never says to ingest their calumnies holus bolus.

Historic wrongs remain part of our history. They don’t negate the good. And the Church, from the very first Easter season until this very Easter season, has been a source of good in proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Over that history, and in our own historic moment, it has contributed enormous good to almost every sphere of social and individual endeavour. Regrets? We have more than a few.  Especially in recent years, we have been properly willing to mention them.

But the belief that our faith does more bad than good? It should be sent packing on a moving truck to nowhere.

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