Non-practicing, non-believers but a "little bit" Catholic



The Catholic religion continues to play an important role in defining identity for Québec's baby boomer generation. This is the finding of a recent study conducted by Géraldine Mossière, a researcher-professor at the Institute of Religious Studies at Université de Montréal.

Members of this generation are not indifferent to the Catholic Church, as seems to be the case for a significant proportion of more recent generations.

The researcher collected life stories from 24 men and 19 women born between 1945 and 1957 into Catholic families living in Québec for at least two generations. She first noted that members of this generation are not indifferent to the Catholic Church, as seems to be the case for a significant proportion of more recent generations. Some respondents took a very critical view of the Catholic Church, while others expressed a desire to restore the legacy it has left in the province. 

While identifying as Catholic is often more a question of identity than of religion, interviewees described a wide range of affiliations, beliefs and practices, ranging from "part-time" and "default" Catholics to "non-practicing" or even "non-believers". Some also reported occasionally visiting Catholic places of worship to re-experience a place and an atmosphere (architecture, Gregorian chant, etc.) that marked their childhood.

The researcher observed how respondents use religious or spiritual resources to make sense of life events (marriage, birth, unemployment, illness, etc.). The political, social and cultural evolution experienced by Québec in recent decades has also had an influence on religious pathways, in some cases leading to a renewed interest in Catholicism. Several trajectories were seen to have borrowed elements from other religions. For example, former hippies reported having adopted certain Hindu precepts or having developed a connection to nature similar to that associated with First Nations people. The Catholic religion is neither linear nor exclusive: it evolves according to the personal and social events that mark our lives.