How many young people are reading about the Pope’s resignation?

Tease the day: Nick Taylor-Vaisey on Benedict, North Korea and cameras in the red chamber


Riccardo De Luca/AP

Canada is leaving religion behind, statistics tell us. My life certainly bears out those numbers, particularly as they relate to young people. I know very few friends who attend Catholic church, and dozens and dozens of others who are Catholic in name only—resigned to their inherited faith, but by no means enthusiastic. When Benedict XVI announced yesterday he would resign as Pope at the end of the month, I didn’t talk about it at all outside of work. My truly secular existence sat in stark relief to the global reaction—and even the Canadian reaction.

Yesterday, as I so boldly predicted, news networks talked about the pope, and his potential Canadian successor, all day. Look at this morning’s four national newspapers. You’ll find they all put the news above the fold (see links below for the proof). Combined, they published 25 stories, op-eds and editorials that dissect most angles of Benedict XVI’s exit from the papacy. These newspapers know their audiences are older Canadians who skew towards more religious, or at least more concerned about the affairs of the Vatican City. That’s fine, obviously. But I know at lunch today, as I eat a sandwich with a friend, we’ll talk about a thousand things before we talk about the Pope. Among them might be CBC News’ top story this morning: North Korea’s third nuclear test.

What’s above the fold this morning?

The Globe and Mail leads with potential successors to Pope Benedict XVI, including Canadian Marc Cardinal Ouellet. The National Post fronts Ouellet’s potential rise to pontiff. The Toronto Star goes above the fold with the “good precedent” set by Benedict XVI’s resignation. The Ottawa Citizen leads with the play-by-play of Benedict XVI’s resignation. iPolitics fronts proposed changes to charity tax rules that could encourage donors to increase contributions. CBC.ca leads with North Korea’s third nuclear missile test. National Newswatch showcases .

Stories that will be (mostly) missed

1. Competitiveness. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce warns that while the feds have recognized a skilled labour shortage, it remains a top barrier to competitiveness. 2. Domestic terror. Canada’s top spy told a Senate committee that the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is more worried about domestic terrorism now than five years ago.
3. Right-to-die. For fear of becoming dependent on others, a 91-year-old Vancouver woman took a lethal dose of barbiturates and died. She long advocated for right-to-die legislation. 4. Senate cameras. Canada’s Red Chamber is moving to install of webcams to monitor its proceedings, a move to open up the Senate lauded by its opposition leader, James Cowan.


How many young people are reading about the Pope’s resignation?

  1. When religion ruled the world we called it the Dark Ages.

    • Isaac Newton ~ Principia Mathematica:

      This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being …. This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all …… As a blind man has no idea of colors so we have no idea of the manner by which the all-wise God preserves and understands all things. He is utterly void of all body and bodily figure, and can therefore neither be seen, nor heard, nor touched; nor ought to be worshipped under the representation of any corporeal thing.

      • Newton was a heretic….dangerous to be back then.

    • If I tell her that historians generally disparage the term “Dark Ages” when referring to that time period (since advances in archeology and increased availability of literary sources show that the traditional view of the period we had at the beginning of the century was incorrect) that she will be willing to reconsider her statement?

      Nah. This is Emily.

      • It’s a commonly accepted term Yanni….for a very dark period in our history….one we have little knowledge of….but a bad time was had by all

        You really think this approach is going to boost religion?

        • Things have changed since you went to school in the 60’s Emily.

          As for boosting religion, I don’t care if people follow religion or not. I do care however, if people hold on to untrue and fossilized accounts of history that don’t reflect reality.

          It has an impact on people’s lives in the present, like your claims that Native Canadians had no concept of private property, and therefore shouldn’t have it now. Which really matters when a basic rule of economics is that people’s standard of living depends on their society’s ability to produce goods and services.

          • Well most of us didn’t stop learning Yanni….just people like you

            But then you don’t follow religion…..you lie routinely….just like your church

          • Okay then, I’m not the one out of step with the scholarly consensus on the matter, so I don’t really have to justify anything to you. If you don’t trust what I have to say on the matter, you just have to read the peer-reviewed journal literature. I’m done speaking now, you are free to have the last word.

    • Enough of your Christian-centric views. The same time period (8th-13th century) was also the Islamic Golden Age.

      “During this period the Arab world became an intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education; the Abbasids championed the cause of knowledge and established the House of Wisdom in Baghdad, where both Muslim and non-Muslim scholars sought to translate and gather all the world’s knowledge into Arabic.”


      • LOL I have posted about the Golden Age of Islam on here many times. They helped revive the west….then in the Dark Ages…..and we thanked them by declaring war on them.

        • A cursory Google search of the terms “Emily”, “Macleans” and “Golden Age of Islam” returns zero results.

          • LOL cute.

            Bored tonight?

          • That’d make two of us, I suppose.

          • LOL actually I’m working.

            It’s 11:30 Wed morning in China.

          • Unless your job is posting on Macleans, then no you’re not.

          • Good lord….who’d get paid to post on Macleans?

            OTOH….I get paid to do business in China.

  2. My mom abandoned Catholic church when she went off to university but there are many Catholics on maternal side of family. I agree Pope is not that exciting if you just think of Church as one hour on a Sunday but here in Ontario Catholics are responsible for delivering many of prov’s welfare programs, they volunteer to help poor and downtrodden – my aunties always keep more informed of who they are helping now. Outside of North America and parts of Western Europe, Catholic Church is constant thorn in side of authoritarian governments around the world – Catholics make Chinese Communists bonkers – enormous welfare delivery in Africa and other third world nations.

    Pope has enormous influence and power in world affairs, he’s not just some old conservative dude who thinks we are all sinners for having pre marital sex. Try to have lunch with people who aren’t exactly like you, Taylor-Vaisey, it would make you a more interesting journo.

  3. “How many young people are reading about the Pope’s resignation?”

    wiki ~ “The 17th World Youth Day 2002 was a Catholic youth festival held from July 23 to July 28, 2002 in Toronto, Canada. World Youth Day is a celebration of faith begun by Pope John Paul II held on an international level every two to three years, and WYD2002 was the tenth such event. It was also Pope John Paul II’s last World Youth day. There were an estimated 400,000-500,000 youths from all over the world participating in the week-long festival. Although WYD is designed for Catholics, it attracts sizable numbers of youths from other faiths and denominations, and it was made as a multi-faith celebration of young people from all over the world.””

  4. I found a 1000 things to talk about before the resignation of the Archbishop of Canterbury the day he resigned too, and I’d probably find dozens of things to talk about on the day the Dalai Lama resigns or dies before I’d talk about the Dalai Lama. It isn’t really all that important unless it affects you directly.

    As for people becoming more secular, that is indeed true. A lot of it is because there simply isn’t much social utility in being religious anymore. You don’t lose out on business if you don’t go to church, a lot of people don’t live near their families anymore, and there are a lot of substitutes for venues of entertainment and social interaction. It is simply easier to be what a lot of people were already, and always were, lukewarm, agnostic or atheist.

    There has also been an upswing in atheist sentiment and thinking, perhaps correlated to the fall of communism and the loss of that threat. Atheism isn’t quite as strongly associated with Marxist doctrine anymore, though you still find more Atheists on the left side of the political spectrum. There is still some that spout a Hegelian-Marxist view of history (from primitives, to religious people, to capitalists, to post-capitalism) but they are generally old and crazy. Instead, Atheism comes from a more skeptical bent among intellectuals generally these days, and an appreciation of empirical science. Certainly they are correct that the claims of the faithful are extraordinary, and we can’t really provide evidence for it. Generally, you have to to trust that the practice is worthwhile and that will bring good fruit to you if you have faith.

    Which brings us to the final problem. The handling of the sex abuse crisis was a disaster. Sure, you can argue that the abuse rate of priests is less than the general population of men and you can argue that sex abuse has been proven to be a culture-wide problem since the sex abuse scandal in the Church broke in the late 90’s and 00’s. These are all true. That doesn’t change the fact that it has led to a great sense of betrayal amongst the Church’s faithful and a useful cudgel by the Church’s enemies. It will continue to be so until there is a fundamental reform to bring more transparency and to become engaged and active in responding to the inevitable problems that arise in a large organization. Thinking and acting in centuries isn’t going to cut it anymore.

    I believe this reform doesn’t need to be partisan among right/left lines, and I certainly don’t think the Church has to sacrifice orthodoxy to do make these reforms. But I do think there needs to be some removal of some entrenched players, that the curia needs a complete overhaul and reorganization, and that especially the seminary and diocesan culture needs a cleanup.

      • That’s what I said. Atheism doesn’t have to do with left/right politics, but that Atheists are more likely to be left wing.

        Given that you view the left as being more progressive and rational than the right, you shouldn’t worry about the left having more atheists than the right.

        • No dear, rightwing heroine Ayn Rand was an atheist. So is Karl Rove.

          Many leftwingers are very religious….like the Rev Tommy Douglas and Rev Bill Blaikie

          And I regard the left as just as crackpot as the right….sorry

          It has nothing to do with left and right…now or in the past.

          • Well, given that this is completely aside from anything I want to talk about, you can believe what you want. If you want to say that the left and the right and equally atheist, then that’s fine.

          • Once again with the nervous shuffle and disappearance when proven wrong.

          • Well, we all know you can’t be proven wrong, Ms. Dee.

          • I don’t mind being ‘proven’ wrong….but it would have to involve facts not just your religious beliefs

          • How does one disprove a non-sequitur?

          • I don’t speak in non-sequiturs.

            I’ve noticed rightwingers don’t seem to be able to connect the dots very well though.

          • That would be on topic if

            1) there were any right-wing comments on this post; and

            2) that were somehow relevant to Yanni’s comment (it isn’t – Yanni’s is upfront in saying it doesn’t need to be a right/left issue)

            As I said – non-sequitur.

          • And like *I* said, you don’t connect the dots very well.

          • Of course, because I am stupid, therefore I am a right-winger.

          • John Stuart Mill: “Not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservatives.”

          • I truly question if you believe the first half of that quote.

            That notwithstanding, good night.

      • People who just brush off the scientific method generally have problems with learning.

        • I’m curious. When have I ever brushed off the scientific method?

  5. These newspapers know their audiences are older Canadians who skew towards more religious, or at least more concerned about the affairs of the Vatican City.

    That’s an interesting generalization. It suggests two things: First, youth are tuned out of all religious news altogether, so that major events within any religion (Islam, Buddhism, the resignation of the Dalai Lama, etc) would be equally shunned by youth.

    Second, youth are generally not interested in major news altogether. Does a young adult that cares not for the resignation of the pope, care much more about senate scandals, North Korea nuclear tests, free trade negotiations with the EU, etc? In my experience (partly because I’m a young-ish adult, and my friends are as well), most of my friends get the “Twitter version” of the news. They’ll know about as much about the pope resigning than they do about senate scandals, North Korea missile tests, etc. That is to say, no more than about 140 characters about each event, regardless of whether it’s about religion or any other subject.
    Your statement could have easily said “audiences are older Canadians who skew towards any substantial news with accompanying lengthy analysis, not merely limited to religion…”

    • It doesn’t necessarily suggest those tings at all.

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