MONTREAL – The discovery of several mass graves in former residential school sites has shocked much of Canada and this feeling of horror is leading some to question their ties to the Catholic Church.
“Now, with this situation with residential schools, there are people who blame the (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), people who want to cancel Canada Day. But I blame the church, with a capital C, ”said former Catholic Frédéric Serre.
The remains of more than 1,300 Indigenous children have been found on the grounds where several residential schools once stood. Canada’s residential school system, which was established in the 19th century, was overseen by religious institutions, including the Catholic Church.
Several churches were vandalized after the discovery of the remains.
According to Michel Virard, president of the Humanist Association of Quebec, several people in the province are thinking of leaving the church.
“There’s no question about that. We’ve never had this kind of increase in requests before,” he said. “What I saw last week are basically inquiries, questions on how to complete the form, questions about consequences. “
On its website, the Virard association offers forms to facilitate leaving the church and information on the consequences of leaving, such as no longer being eligible for Catholic burials.
The Chancellor of the Archdiocese said he had not noticed a recent spike in departures.
“If someone asks for apostasy, we at least try to put them in touch with someone who can answer any questions they may have,” said Francesco Giordano.
Serre, who became a Baptist deacon after leaving Catholicism, said he could not stay in any organized religion whose beliefs he disliked.
“This is what happened with the discovery of these indigenous graves. How can people support an organization that is responsible for it? ” he said.