Anti-Catholicism a silent but growing problem in Canada

While the Catholic Church in Canada has experienced a sharp growth in hate crimes directed against it, Canadian politicians and the country’s media have been largely silent about this trend, writes Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun (October 13). Citing a Statistics Canada finding that there has been a significant increase in hate crimes against Catholics, Todd adds that, “for puzzling reasons, neither politicians nor most media mentioned that, while hate crimes against Blacks went down by five per cent and up 16 per cent against Chinese and other East Asians, attacks on Catholics rose by far the most—by an astonishing 260 per cent.” The polling firm offered few reasons for the sharp increase, nor did it distinguish the severity of hate-crime incidents. Catholic media have speculated that the incidences of arson and vandalism are connected to announcements made in 2021 of the discovery of potential unmarked graves of indigenous residential-school students. Although much of the media storm over these alleged “mass graves” has been shown to be inaccurate, this coverage seemed to be the spark leading to the vandalizing and burning of numerous Catholic churches, many of which served First Nations or immigrant communities.

Todd adds that “arrests have been few. And the response from politicians has been, at best, muted. In some quarters, anti-colonial activists applauded the destruction, with people like Harsha Walia, head of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association before she resigned, tweeting, ‘Burn it all down.’” Some researchers are reporting that Catholics these days feel under more pressure than others to self-censor, including to protect their livelihoods. Todd cites sociologist Reginald Bibby, who has shown that 35 percent of all immigrants to Canada are Catholic and that “mega-parishes” across Canada are often ethnic, led and attended by Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, and Filipinos. Despite Catholicism’s ethnic diversity, the Angus Reid Institute found this year that Canadians were more likely to view the societal impact of Catholicism, as well as evangelical Christianity and Islam, as negative rather than positive. The survey found 31 percent of Canadians saying Catholicism has been damaging, while 26 percent said it has been a benefit to society (and another 32 percent said the faith has had “no real impact”). But for Sikhism, Buddhism, Protestantism, atheism, and especially Judaism, Canadians’ positive assessments outweighed their negative ones.

Catholic church in Nelson vandalized on Canada Day (source: Cranbrook Daily Townsman).