Edmonton, Canada – The Canada that is welcoming Pope Francis is far more secular, less Catholic and more religiously diverse than the country that welcomed a pontiff two decades ago.
And the city where the pontiff arrived on Sunday, Edmonton, reflects the diversity that can be much more than a provincial capital in the middle of rural Canada.
While Edmonton and its province of Alberta have a large population of Christians of European descent, they also have a religiously and ethnically diverse population, with a Sikh immigrant community and the Al-Rashid Mosque founded by Lebanese Muslim immigrants and considered the oldest Is. Nation.
The original red brick structure is in a city park with historical exhibits.
“When people think of Canada’s ethnic diversity, they think of Ontario,” said Noor Al-Hendi, director of public relations for the mosque. “No one thinks of (Alberta) as a diverse province with diverse religious groups that have long roots here,” he said.
According to the most recent census data, the Edmonton metropolitan area – of about 1.1 million people – had a 59% Christian population, including 26% Catholic in 2011.
10% were from other ethnic groups such as Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus or Buddhists and their presence is evident in mosques, gurdwaras and other temples. 31% said they had no religion.
The figures are similar at the national level as well. The 2011 census found 67% Christians, including 39% Catholic, 9% belonging to other religions and 24% saying they did not belong to any religion.
The figures show a decrease in the percentage of Christians and Catholics compared to the 2001 census, a year before the visit of the then Pope John Paul II. In that decade, the population of other religions and residents claiming to be secular increased.
A 2018 Pew Research Center report showed that these trends have continued in recent years, albeit at a slower pace, in the United States.
John Dowds, an Anglican pastor in the city of Edmonton, says he has seen “an increase in members of other traditions who need to find a specific place, at a specific time of day, to pray.”