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.

What do you make of movies like Evan Almighty that make light of religious themes and stories?

I must say, as I begin this reply, that I never go to see movies and rarely watch them on television. But many people certainly talk to me about them. At the Cathedral and in my travels throughout this Archdiocese, I would say that their reactions vary from mildly amused to seriously offended, depending on the movie they are talking about. One of the most interesting reactions I have heard goes something like this: "At the end of the day, it all depends on profit. If a theme offends me, even mildly, then it is up to me to spend my entertainment dollars on something I like instead. In this way, I am making a positive statement by sending a message to the producers of things I like."

I believe there is something deeper to be considered here. There is little doubt that entertainment which ridicules or "makes light" of religious values contributes to a gradual watering down of those values in our society. In order to promote them, some help is in order. 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.

Certainly, some losses have been inflicted on the faith, but as I recently read, those very losses have also produced gains. Religion no longer can count on frequent support from various public instances. Nevertheless, it 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!