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CANADA — A CHRISTIAN NATION?

27 July 2017 3 Comments

CANADA — A CHRISTIAN NATION?
Father John Walsh


Canada was considered a Christian nation until somewhere around fifty or so years ago. The change was rather abrupt in parts of the country, more especially in “Catholic” Quebec. Throughout Canada statutory holidays and religious holydays were scheduled on the feasts on the Christian calendar. The “Quiet Revolution” in Quebec, beginning in the 1960s, was also the time of a world-wide cultural revolution towards liberal democracies and secular societies. Religion was no longer part of the public square but was privatized and relegated to the family and places of worship. Across the wide expanse of Canada secularization came later to Quebec than other parts of Canada. Today Canada is a thriving secular society. The religious presence of other faith traditions, other than Christian, has resulted in a wide acceptance of inter-faith dialogue, not only as a religious enterprise, but as citizens contributing to the humanization of the whole of Canada. The quintessential part of every religious community is reflected in the Golden Rule: Do unto others and you would have them do unto you. Today, there is a mutuality in the common desire for social justice on the part of all faith traditions. The search resounds in our deeper “yes” to belonging. We belong to a big world in which we can no longer accept that one and only one religion contains all truth. Truth is honored and respected when it is achieved together in dialogue. The greater good which all religious communities have with reference to a Greater Ideal, which some call G-d, enables all Canadians to aspire to serve one another rather than to wield power over the powerless, to give voice to the voiceless, and to dethrone ourselves and place the poor and the homeless in our place.
Canada may no longer be a Christian nation, as it was at least nominally, but today Canada is stronger than ever because all Canadians are being challenged to become better human beings through a contemporary rethinking and reinterpretation of the sacred texts of all religions. As a Christian in Canada my faith is being strengthened everyday as I am called upon to share with other faith communities a deeper sense of being self-critical and thus purifying my Christian faith to work together against those structures which are causing the pain and suffering of so many Canadians. Today the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission require more than lip-service to improve the lives of our Native people, there is need for a united faith-voice, not only asking for forgiveness but offering a reckoning of the wrongs committed by our Christian communities. Today injustices committed against anyone in Canada, whatever their religious affiliation or alienation from religion, are injustices against Canadians and our united front to bring justice to bear on the injustices is as Canadians.
Canada may well serve as a beacon of hope for the entire world as we develop in the direction of what Micah considers true religion: To do justice, to love tenderly and to walk carefully with our God. True hope is when all our hopes no longer clutter our agendas and true love is inclusive of all Canadians without any disqualifying label and the future may well be one in which we will be open to surprises we have yet to imagine. Canadians are privileged as a nation and we are only 150 years old. Years ago the Bishop of Castel Gondolfo, where the Pope in the past had taken summer holidays, was visiting Montreal and Canada for the very first time. He stayed with me so we had time to share about Canada. His words: Unlike Europe Canada is a young nation. Europe takes too long to change. You are teenagers and you must have the courage to make mistakes.
We need to have the courage to make mistakes and together to learn from our mistakes. Happy Anniversary Canada.

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