Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Hindus are very upset about the new movie Love Guru. Has your faith group had similar difficulties with popular films or books?

Opinions amongst the people I meet about books and movies which have controversial themes range from being somewhat amused to seriously offended, depending on the particular work of which they are speaking. Being a mainstream faith, most people are accustomed to being a target in films and books. Frequently, we must remind ourselves that these "works" are produced as fiction. I often hear variations of a reaction which goes something like this: " If a theme offends me, then it is up to me to spend my entertainment dollars on something else." There is a general feeling that in this way, we have an opportunity to make a positive statement about where we wish to spend money. At the end of the day, these movies and books depend on profit. That is really why they are produced.

Nonetheless, there is another train of thought which I hear as well. Entertainment which ridicules or makes light of some of our religious values or teachings does contribute to a gradual erosion, or at the very least a lack of respect, of those beliefs.

A re-reading of Vatican IIs Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et spes) provides us with a balanced Catholic understanding of the value and limits of our society in relationship to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Here, we are reminded that our goal is not to secularize theology - but to find ways to introduce our faith to the sometimes Godless mindset of our world.

For some time now, certain religious themes have been subject to questionable treatment in various movies and books. Nevertheless, this must be weighed against the fact that faith is gaining an increasing personal commitment through which, according to several theologians, the Gospel thrives vigorously and has gained proportionately the largest church-attending membership in the world.