Why some Quebec Catholics are turning their backs on the Church on residential schools

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WARNING: This story contains details that some readers may find distressing.

On Canada Day, as thousands of Montrealers gathered to denounce the legacy of residential schools across the country, Danielle Poirier protested in her own way.

She submitted her apostasy, formally renouncing her Roman Catholic faith.

“I wanted perform an act, to do something concrete and official that said, ‘I’m really disappointed,’ “she said.” For me to do this with the Church and demand apostasy was the thing that seemed to be. most relevant. “

Like many Quebecers, Poirier grew up immersed in Catholicism. But like others around the world, she has drifted away from the Church in recent years. Apostasy takes place when someone who has been baptized into the Church publicly and completely rejects their faith.

The recent discoveries of unmarked burial sites near former residential schools across the country and the subsequent lack of apologies from the Pope and the Catholic Church as an institution were the tipping point that caused his official break-up.

Danielle Poirier with her friends, Marie-Adèle Grégoire and Kanessa André. (Submitted by Danielle Poirier)

“For me, it was something to say it’s official, ‘are you talking about things’,” she told CBC Montreal. Dawn.

Their number may not be huge, but other Quebeckers are doing the same.

The Church does not compile province-wide figures, but in a statement, the Catholic Diocese of Quebec said it had seen an increase in the number of requests for apostasy.

“Usually we get between three and five a month. In June, we received 16, six of which explicitly mentioned the issue of residential schools, ”said Valérie Roberge-Dion, director of communications for the diocese, in a press release.

But Roberge also stressed that nearly a million Catholics are still part of the diocese, “despite the current crisis”.

Kim Verrault says his apostasy is his way of supporting Indigenous peoples. (Submitted by Kim Verreault)

Kim Verreault, a resident of Granby, east of Montreal, is another Quebecer in the process of submitting her apostasy after growing up Catholic.

“I wanted to show my support for First Nations,” she said. “So I wanted to send a strong message and say, ‘Well, I’m done.’ I no longer want my name to be attached to the Catholic religion. “

For Verreault, whose mother was a former nun, it was Pope Francis’ lack of apologies that pushed her to take an official position.

In early June, the Pope addressed the issue of boarding schools from his balcony overlooking St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. Although he expressed his sadness for the findings, he did not apologize.

“It is with sadness that I follow the news from Canada of the shocking discovery of the remains of 215 children, students of Kamloops Indian Residential School in the province of British Columbia,” he said.

“I join with the Canadian Bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by this shocking news.”

Later in the month, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops announced that a delegation of First Nations, Métis and Inuit will meet with the Pope later this year, between December 17 and 20.

While the Pope and the Catholic Church have yet to apologize, Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lépine has apologized to Indigenous communities for the role the Church played in Quebec’s residential school system.

“Our most fundamental values ​​are undermined when the integrity of families and the respect due to every human being is so blatantly violated,” said Lépine. “In this case, the Church was dramatically out of step with Jesus Christ.”

For Poirier and Verreault, however, an apology from the Pope is needed.

“Why wait so long and meet the First Nations at the end of December? asked Verreault. “He [an apology] should be automatic. “

WATCH | Apostasies in favor of the First Nations:

Dawn Montreal10:40Apostasies in support of First Nations

The Catholics of Quebec renounce their religion after the discovery of hundreds of anonymous graves in residential schools. We spoke with two people who are apostasizing. 10:40


Support is available for anyone affected by their residential school experience and for those triggered by the latest reports.

A national residential school crisis line has been established to provide support to former students and those affected. People can access emotional and crisis referral services by calling the 24-hour National Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419.


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