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The Twenty-First Century: Towards an Interfaith Branch

The Chaplain Branch remains mostly male (88%) and Protestant (58%). The majority continue to come from the 'big three' that have traditionally filled the branch; that is, Anglicans, Roman Catholics, and those groups that form what is now the United Church of Canada. Roman Catholic chaplains constitute most of 41% of the branch even though Roman Catholic personnel are estimated at almost 49% of the military population. This gap results from the shortage of Roman Catholic priests in Canada, but increasing numbers of pastoral associates are filling the need. Anglican priests account for about 21% of all Protestants (Anglican military personnel are estimated at 12% of the CF), and United Church ministers make up the next largest group at

Table 2.2. Change in Religious Representation within the Chaplaincy between 2006 and 2010

Tradition

Total 2006

Total 2010

Approximate Percentage of Branch

Approximate Percentage of All

Protestants

Roman Catholic

80

90

40.9%

Orthodox

0

1

0.4%

Protestant

104

127

57.7%

Anglican Church of

35

47

21.4%

37%

Canada

United Church of

25

28

12.7%

22%

Canada

Baptist

13

19

8.6%

14.9%

Presbyterian

6

7

5.5%

3.2%

Lutheran

9

9

3.1%

7.0%

Churches of the

16

17

7.7%

13.3%

Evangelical Fellowship

of Canada

Other Faith Groups

Aboriginal Spirituality

n/a

0

n/a

Muslim

1

2

0.9%

Buddhist

0

0

n/a

Sikh

0

0

n/a

Pagan

0

0

n/a

Jewish

0

0

n/a

Hindu

0

0

n/a

TOTAL

185

220

nearly 13% (personnel are at just over 10%). The remaining members come from other Christian groups and two Muslim imams.34 Despite increasing awareness of the need to be inclusive and serve personnel from a greater number of backgrounds, the number of Christian chaplains in the branch continues to grow. Table 2.2 shows the change in religious representation within the chaplaincy between 2006 and 2010.

Historically, Canadian Forces chaplains have demonstrated impressive adaptability in their attempts to remain relevant to the personnel they serve. However, their efforts do not always come without struggles, as we saw with the inclusion of women in the branch. These struggles continue as chaplains work to minister to people without betraying their religious vocation, and are most evident in the increasingly diverse duties of chaplains who must accommodate all religious orientations equally.

 
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