Burning the Churches

Note: Robert Royal files his second report from Rome today for our new The Vatican Thing page. This new initiative will be ongoing, and in today’s second installment, “Religion – and the Pope – Still Matter,“ Bob writes about reactions in the Eternal City to the Holy Father’s evolving comments about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Click on the title or choose EVENTS above and, from the drop-down menu, THE VATICAN THING to see all the reports so far.

Perhaps I have imagined that the Catholic Church in Canada is suffering from a death wish. Surely, this could not be so. But little information is available to contradict this unfortunate impression. And what there is tends to confirm it.

It did not help that the Church largely closed down in response to COVID. Her bishops allowed government public health measures to take priority over the teachings of Jesus Christ, and were obedient to all bureaucratic whims (phrased, usually, as orders). The Catholic Mass was “modernized” in a way more stark than anything we had witnessed in the time since Vatican II.

Priests were, shall we say, inconvenienced, visiting nursing homes, hospitals, cemeteries. They joined the legions of the shut-in. This, while the Church was under attack, by a furious and (to my mind) satanic enemy. And yet her own bishops were telling her – both priests and laymen – to avoid provoking that enemy by making any sort of defense.

Here we come to the desecrations. In the mass media, there has been almost no mention of this, but by consulting various “social media” sites, we may arrive at the figure of at least seventy churches – mostly Catholic. These were vandalized by the autumn of last year.

They include churches burned out completely, or merely set on fire, statuary toppled, decorative works and imagery destroyed, among other desecrations. The targeted churches were, to start with, mostly on or near Indian reservations in Western Canada; later the destruction spread eastwards.

Even a Coptic church, for Egyptian immigrants who had arrived too recently to know what was in the air, was torched. Arrests were rarely made.

As the media and Prime Minister Trudeau were eager to exclaim, this was a protest against the former Indian reservation schools. Mere violent language had been ventilating for quite a few years. The hatefulness was updated by allegations that unmarked graves had been discovered by ground-penetrating radar in several historical locations.


The idea that the Catholic Church had, now or in the past, committed actual genocide on such a scale, was intrinsically improbable. This would have been grasped a generation ago by most Canadian adults. That Indian children had unpleasant experiences, were often separated from their parents against their will, and became sometimes pitifully forlorn, was recognized.

That there were graves by Indian villages, indeed near Indian schools, and that many of these had been poorly kept, was also known. But the suggestion that these were mass graves, as if filled by tractors or bulldozers, was now being “sold” via Canadian media.

Details were never clear, and to this day not one body has been exhumed of the thousands supposedly “discovered.”

Canadian journalists are, for the most part, not even asking, but when one of them, Lauren Southern, tried to find some explanations, she was given the run-around by all possible respondents. It became obvious that radical Indian groups, and political officialdom, were satisfied with the simplistic genocide narrative, and did not want to have it disturbed.

Southern, who had previously looked into other news stories independently, was viciously smeared as a “white nationalist,” and with other ludicrous sobriquets. One may consult her Wikipedia entry to see how cruelly she has been dealt with. But also, one may trace the clues to her excellent buried documentary on “The Canadian Mass Grave Hoax.”

The Canadian mass media is, for all practical purposes, the propaganda arm of the Liberal Party. The various print and broadcasting agencies receive subsidies from the federal government, in amounts that are maintained as a state secret. The Party also, directly and indirectly, regulates news reporting through the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

But what Lauren Southern’s experience shows is the difficulty, and likely ruin, that comes with trying to stand up against the Canadian dictatorship. For the triumph of the Left is complete. She is banned from all media in the government’s pay, and is smugly ostracized by her fellow journalists, who realize that, by her very independence, she is showing them up.

I’ve endured this treatment myself.

Very well: honest journalism requires courage, as well as diligence. But the Catholic Church must also suffer when she feeds her defenders to the dogs, in this dishonest environment. Her refusal to correct the factual record, and to explain elementary history, when she is accused of malicious deeds, leaves her isolated and helpless in times like these.

Indeed, the most recent development was the formal apology given by Pope Francis to a delegation of radical Indians in Rome. This was reported in Canada as if it were a formal admission that all of the charges made against the Church were true.

Meanwhile, the Liberal government is funding surveys of Indian burial yards and the vicinities of the residential schools, to do more ground radar studies – which, as is known to anyone with experience of the techniques, produces meaningless results unless it is followed by excavations.

Again, not one corpse has been dug up in these programs, or is likely to be revealed in the future by an exercise that is obviously designed for purely theatrical effects. The documentary research done at many of these sites has been replaced by wild hearsay.

While no one claims that the history of the residential schools was a consistently happy one, there is evidence even in the archives of the CBC of happier days in the most controversial of them, as recently as the 1950s and 1960s. This is supplemented by the memories of many, that have been steamrolled in the race to victimhood.

Here we get into the background issue: demonization of the Catholic Church. We have entered one of the recurring periods when the devil takes the upper hand, and the faithful must watch his exertions. Fanciful charges against the Church are hardly restricted to Canada, but by reviewing the situation here, we may see what we are facing more clearly.


*Image: Desecration of St. Paul Co-Cathedral in downtown Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, June 25, 2021 [photo: Yahoo!News]

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David Warren is a former editor of the Idler magazine and columnist in Canadian newspapers. He has extensive experience in the Near and Far East. His blog, Essays in Idleness, is now to be found at: davidwarrenonline.com.