Angus Reid Institute
May 28, 2019
In the popular imagination, the story of the Catholic Church over the last two decades has been one of scandal, attempted reform, and further scandal. Decades of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy – combined with opaque policies for addressing them – have eroded public trust in the Church around the world.
A new public opinion poll from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds Canada is not immune to this trend. And yet, though most Canadians – including practicing Catholics – say the Church has done a poor job of handling this issue, the general public in this country seems to differentiate between the Church as an institution and people of faith more generally.
Scandal in the Catholic Church has not caused a broader crisis of faith in Canada today, though it has done notable damage to Canadian Catholics’ opinions of their Church.
While some of this damage is almost certainly the result of concerns Canadians have about incidents of abuse that took place elsewhere in the world, it’s notable that one-in-three practicing Catholics say their local Church community has had problems with clerical sexual abuse over the years.
Ultimately, this is an issue that the Catholic Church in Canada will need to effectively address and move on from if it hopes to recover. Most Canadians, and many practicing Catholics, say they expect the Church to emerge from this issue weakened as an institution.
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