'The final straw': Some Catholic Canadians renounce church as residential school outrage grows

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Outrage directed at the Catholic Church for its role in Canada’s residential school system continues, with more churches allegedly set ablaze and faithful followers questioning their loyalty to the institution.

While some continue to call for a Papal apology, others have renounced the church altogether, unable to come to terms with the atrocities carried out by religious leaders.

“I’ve struggled with my feelings for the church and its position on many issues, including Indigenous rights, and I felt I’d reached this moment where I couldn’t take it anymore,” writer Bernadette Hardaker told CTV National News from her home in Orangeville, Ont.

Hardaker – who now describes herself as a former Catholic – said she was ashamed that she “upheld an institution that dodges and waves instead of taking responsibility.”

What started as an urge to write the Pope directly quickly turned into a printed confession of the shame she carried as a Catholic, writing, “This is more than hypocrisy; more than moral bankruptcy. This is sin, of the most mortal kind.”

“You can’t be part of an organization for your whole life and not care about it,” Hardaker told CTV National News.

“You want it to be better, and you know it should be better because the whole foundation of the teachings of the Catholic faith are based on love thy neighbour, and the attitudes of being kind, good, fair and honest.”

Hardaker is not alone in her internal struggles with the church. A growing number of Canadians are distancing themselves from the Catholic Church, which administrated an estimated 70 per cent of Canada's residential schools.

While Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches were also involved, particular focus has been put on the Catholic Church for its failure to formally offer a substantial and meaningful apology for the atrocities committed against Indigenous peoples despite repeated requests.

Now, in light of the finding of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites around the country, there is growing outrage towards the church, resulting in alleged arson attacks on Catholic and Anglican churches in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Dozens more across the country have been vandalized.