A recently-published report found that “hate crimes” against Catholics have more than tripled in Canada since 2020.

In a March 16 communiqué entitled “Toward a Hopeful Future: Facing Down Religious Hate,” the Christian think tank Cardus reported that hate crimes against Catholics have seen the “largest spike” relative to previous years, jumping from 43 known instances in 2020 to 155 instances in 2021.

The non-partisan research organization noted that the numbers coincide with the residential school announcements, which fingered the blame of possible unmarked graves at the Catholic Church’s apparent mismanagement of educational institutions for Indigenous youth.

Since the Kamloops Residential school story broke in May of 2021, True North has reported that over seventy Catholic and Christian churches have been burned and vandalized.

The Cardus report noted that religious-based discrimination against Catholics follows a general upward trend of hate crimes against all faith denominations. In 2021, a total of 900 hate crime incidents were reported against religious communities, reaching their highest point since 415 in 2009, the year when comparable data was made available.

The think tank attributed this “rise of religious hate crimes” to a “backdrop of increasingly negative public attitudes toward the contributions of religion and faith communities to Canada.” In collaboration with the Angus Reid Institute, Cardus conducted polling which found that those who identify as “non-religious” observe religion in general as “damaging” to public life.

Cardus recommended the importance of public figureheads in the fight to end religiously-motivated violence because they “can set the tone for religious inclusion by using their platforms to highlight the important contributions and services that faith communities provide and to speak out against religious hatred in all of its forms, especially when that hatred takes the form of violence.”

Although incidents of religiously-motivated violence have increased against Catholics, Canadians who identify as “Catholic” has been steadily declining. The most recent Canadian census outlined that the Catholic population has shrunk to 10.9 in 2021 million from 12.8 million in 2011. The scandal of residential schools has also acted as an impetus for Catholics to leave the church.