will not apologize to survivors of Canada’s Indian residential schools
for the role the Roman Catholic church played in operating the
institutions or the abuses suffered there.
Some 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis children were taken from their families
over much of the last century and put in the schools, where they were
forced to convert to Christianity and not allowed to speak their native
languages. Many were beaten and verbally and sexually abused, and up to
6,000 are said to have died. Almost two-thirds of the 130 schools were
run by the Catholic church.
Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the Canadian Conference of
Catholic Bishops, said on Wednesday in a letter to the Indigenous
Peoples of Canada that Francis has not shied away from acknowledging
injustices faced by indigenous peoples around the world, but that he
cannot personally issue an apology for residential schools in Canada.
“The Catholic Bishops of Canada have been in dialogue with the Pope
and the Holy See concerning the legacy of suffering you have
experienced,” Gendron wrote.
“After carefully considering the request and extensive dialogue with
the bishops of Canada, he felt that he could not personally respond.”
A papal apology was one of the 94 recommendations from a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada, and the prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had also asked the pope to apologize during a visit to the Vatican last year.
“Obviously I am disappointed with the Catholic church’s decision,”
Trudeau said. “We know that taking responsibility for past mistakes and
asking forgiveness is something that is core to our values as
His minister of Crown-indigenous relations, Carolyn Bennett, went further, saying: “Sorrow is not enough.”
“One has to take responsibility for the harm that was done, not only
to the children that were taken but for the families left behind and
what happened to them,” she said.
Gendron says the pope has not ruled out a visit to Canada and a
meeting with indigenous peoples, but in the meantime is encouraging
Canadian bishops to continue working with indigenous peoples on
reconciliation issues and projects that help with healing.
The Assembly of First Nations national chief, Perry Bellegarde, said
in a statement he had written to Francis urging him to come to Canada
and meet indigenous peoples.
“Hearing an apology directly from Pope Francis would be an important act of healing and reconciliation,” Bellegarde said.”
* Note that he did not say “Christians”…because forcing their religious beliefs on others…and blatant hypocrisy…are actually the core values of institutionalized Christians…and their practice throughout their history…
“Next, they will want us to give all the money back…!” is something that the Pope probably thought to himself…!