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 would you advise a follower if he said he had to cheat at school or work because everyone else was doing the same thing?

You cant! Put plainly, the goal of Christian discipleship is to do what is right. The Church calls us to truthfulness, sincerity and candour. Our catechism reminds us that we must show ourselves to be "true in deeds and truthful in words, and in guarding against duplicity, dissimulation and hypocrisy" (no. 2468). This weeks inquiry states that I am advising "a follower". As Christians, we strive at all times to do the right thing. Cheating is wrong. We may be "followers" but we dont follow those who do wrong.

We follow Christ in the worship of God and the service of our neighbour. The decisions we make as his disciples are based on his teachings and his example. We are forbidden to misrepresent the truth in our relations with others in the eighth commandment. We are called to bear witness to God who is the truth and wills the truth in everything we do. We also seek inspiration from others who live in truth and righteousness. Their example should help others to avoid the need to cheat.

Disciplined hard work in study, research and analysis broadens our base of knowledge. Using others work might provide those who lead or teach us with the answers they want. But it is a lie. It is not our answer. Those who do so are most likely to forget the material they steal in about as much time as it took to find their quick fix. In the long run, they are cheating themselves of the opportunity to learn what they need to know in order to eventually bring about progress in their chosen fields. Ones ability to do that in any domain - allows the power of creation to continue to be at work in the world- and in that, we are surely doing Gods will!