June 25, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Recently in Canada, there has been yet another onslaught of criticism against the Catholic Church as a result of sad news regarding the Residential School system. LifeSite has covered this extensively, but suffice it to say that in the wake of this news, anti-Catholic sentiment has been growing with each day. June is often a rough month for faithful Catholics to begin with, what with the “pride” movement and the animus it brings toward the Church. But, I can say that in all my years as a Catholic and Catholic school educator, I have never seen such bold and brazen bigotry toward the mere existence of Catholics in my country.
The last 16 months of rolling lockdowns have been hard enough for Catholics and other Christians in Canada, as churches have been shuttered for lengths of time due to supposed public health mandates. Much of the public resistance against the lockdowns has taken place in Protestant settings, although the majority of denominations have complied in full with the unjust mandates from the government. Sadly, the Catholic bishops have largely abandoned their flocks, with some even canceling the Sacrament of Baptism — an incorrigible development, to say the least.
In any event, as society has continued to polarize in different directions as a result of the lock-downs, resentment toward people doing “non-essential” things is growing. Of course, whenever there is a politically expedient event, hordes of people and politicians may gather in large crowds, ostensibly violating lockdown mandates. But if Christians protest that they should be able to simply do what they have done for 20 centuries … that is unacceptable to the public.
Not only have there been grim scenes of Protestant pastors being arrested or locked out of their building, but there have also been religious freedom cases ruled on in multiple provinces where judges have ruled against the practice of religion. For example, in a case from British Columbia in March, a judge from the province’s Supreme Court found that the public health orders do indeed violate religious freedoms. But, like other rights in the Charter, they’re subject to reasonable limits. Also from that same ruling, it was declared that because people could still worship at “drive-in” services or in the privacy of their home, there was no real attack on Christians. This is just one of the many similar rulings that have taken place since the pandemic began.
So, the public is largely against Christians, the courts are largely against Christians, and — as we have seen with police officers storming into services — even the police often act against Christians. I should add that the police are clearly mixed on this issue, and many do not support the lockdown hysteria. We have not even mentioned the various cases of individual Christians being reprimanded or losing their jobs for professing belief in Scripture.
This lethal combination of systemic and societal anti-Christian sentiment has reached a fever pitch as the anger surrounding the Residential School saga grows each day. We still know very little about the gravesites, and in all likelihood the reality is nothing like the narrative, but that doesn’t matter. If you take a stroll through the trending topics on social media, you will find innumerable accusations of “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” leveled at Catholics and the Church. Of course, our apostate and pro-abort Prime Minister has not helped matters as he has stoked the flames of resentment with his public statements on the matter.
Now, there is nothing surprising about a wave and bigotry toward Catholics in today’s Canada, but this unique combination of recent events has heightened the alarm. Not only is it “pride” month, which makes Catholics the enemy; not only is there pandemic hysteria, which makes those who insist on going to Church the enemy; but now Catholics are — in the eyes of the general public — members of the Church that supposedly seeks to erase the history of Indigenous children by way of some sort of systemic genocide. These claims are of course insane, and unhistorical. Do people actually believe that Catholic schools participated in some sort of ritual murder and genocide of indigenous children? They must. And the fact that a significant percentage of the public can entertain such absurd ideas is telling of the underlying hatred of Christ’s Church that already exists in Canada. In addition, the irony is not lost on me that the leftist-progressive crowd is claiming that the Church has committed genocide, yet it is leftists who are pro-abortion.
As you can imagine, the bishops — always playing politics — are reticent to say much in defense of the Church, which is admittedly understandable as it is an impossible corner to be backed into. Thus, faithful Catholics who speak up are not only going against the narrative of a blood-thirsty mob, but they cannot expect the support of the clergy.
To make matters worse, Canada has a totalitarian-style media-propaganda complex that ensures most Canadians never hear any dissenting views. The largest broadcaster in the nation is the state broadcaster, and due to strict press-credential protocols, only those who play within the demanded confines of the government are given any air time. There are, of course, dissenting outlets like LifeSiteNews and Rebel News, but they are constantly pilloried as “fringe” or “extremist.” In Canada, having a pro-Christian opinion is considered fringe.
Say what you will about the dangers of the American media landscape, but there are at least radically dissenting views that garner huge crowds of viewers and readers. In Canada, it is not so, thus we are living under something like a meta-narrative that encompasses most social discourse. Surely there are people who might disagree with the growing sentiment against Catholics, but there is little to no recourse for these opinions.
The situation is so bleak that U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) sent a letter to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom urging the commission to consider adding Canada to its watch list in response to the country’s crackdown on religious freedom. In the letter, Hawley cites recent instances of Canadian pastors being arrested and jailed for holding worship services that do not comply with strict COVID-19 restrictions.
“I am troubled that our Canadian neighbors are effectively being forced to gather in secret, undisclosed locations to exercise their basic freedom to worship,” Senator Hawley writes. “Frankly, I would expect this sort of religious crackdown in Communist China, not in a prominent Western nation like Canada. Canadian authorities’ arrest of faith leaders and seizure of church property, among other enforcement actions, appear to constitute systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Perhaps American pressure on Canadian politics will yield some sort of positive gain for Christians in Canada, but I fear that it might be too little, too late.