Children's remains found at residential school has some Catholics thinking of leaving the church

The discovery of children's bodies buried on the grounds of multiple former residential schools has shocked much of Canada and that feeling of horror is causing some to question their ties to the Catholic Church.

“Now, with this situation with the 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 Frederic Serre.

The remains of over 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 have been vandalized after the remains were discovered.

According to Michel Virard, president of the Humanist Association of Quebec, many people in the province are considering leaving the church.

“There is no doubt about that. We never had this kind of surge in requests before,” he said. “What I've seen in the past week are basically requests for information, questions regarding how to fill out the form, questions about the consequences.”

On its website, Virard's organization has 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 has not noticed a recent spike in people leaving.

“If someone does request an apostasy, at least we try to put them in touch with someone who may answer the questions they may have,” said Francesco Giordano.

Serre, who became a Baptist deacon after leaving Catholicism, said he couldn't stay in any organized religion whose beliefs he found repellent.

“Which is what happened with the discovery of these Indigenous graves. How can people support an organization that is responsible for that?” he said.  

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