Bibby's Take on Catholicism

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September is here, the children are back in school, the garden is almost completely harvested except for some corn, potatoes and several squash. Not a bad crop this year. Time to get back to the usual routine.

Us Catholics lament the state of our faith in the western world, but Reginald Bibby, in his new book co-authored with pollster Angus Reid, says Catholics today are doing well thanks largely to immigration. Three thousand people were polled in 2015 by the Angus Reid group.

The Western Catholic Reporter published an article, picked up by the Prairie Messenger in last week’s issue, on the book.

Using Statistics Canada information Bibby notes that between 2000 and 2011, 478,000 Catholics immigrated to Canada and they’re having a tremendous impact on Catholics here, Bibby says. I haven’t read the book and the article doesn’t say the country of origin but I’ll stick my neck out here a bit and speculate most of them come from Philippines.

The poll, according to Bibby, shows organized religion in Canada is doing well and the Catholic faith especially is doing well. While most of those polled said they don’t feel the need to be active, some 80 % said they attend mass at least once in a while plus Christmas, New Year’s, funerals and weddings.

Bibby says the general sense in Canada towards the end of the last century was that religion was winding down in Canada but that’s not the case now. Even the people in Quebec, that once most Catholic province in the country, still identify and have a strong attachment to the Catholic faith.

He admits there is a lot of diverse thinking among those identifying themselves as Catholic, including some who disagree with the Church’s stand on such controversial issues as abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage etc. but they continue to believe they are Catholic, Bibby says in the PM article.

Since 1961, Bibby says, Catholic have overtaken Protestants and now comprise about 40% of the population making us the largest religious group in the country by far. “Consequently, to a large extent, as Catholicism goes in Canada, so goes religion as a whole in the country.”

That’s all well and good, but we still need butts in the pews to support the institutions that help us live our lives as Catholics. Our faith permeates every aspect of our Catholic schools. Students are taught and shown how to live our faith but we don’t often see them in church following graduation from high school. Parishes need to look at their youth programs to see what can be done to encourage more of our youth to not only attend church but to also become actively involved. Our Archdiocese has a very strong youth ministry and is available to help any parish develop a good, strong, attractive youth ministry.

 

Bibby holds the Board of Governors’ Research Chair in Sociology at the University of Lethbridge and has long been recognized as one of Canada’s leading scholars on anything religious.