Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous people in Canada for Church’s role in school abuse


Pope Francis on Monday issued a historic apology to Indigenous communities across Canada for the Catholic Church’s role in their forced conversion to the faith that led to generations of physical and sexual abuse.

“I am deeply sorry for the way in which, unfortunately, many Christians have supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that have oppressed the indigenous peoples,” the pope said in Spanish, and through an English translator, before an audience. crowd of residential school survivors from all over. Canada in Maskwacis, Alberta, home to the former Ermineskin Residential School.

The pontiff’s trip to Canada began Sunday in Edmonton and will continue until Friday with stops throughout the province of Alberta, Quebec City and the small town of Iqaluit, where nearly half of the population population of 8,000 is Inuit.

LILY: 5 Key Facts as Pope Francis Visits Canada to Apologize to Indigenous Peoples

“It is painful to think of how the firm ground of values, language and culture that constituted your peoples’ authentic identity has eroded, and you have continued to pay the price,” said added the pope.

The 85-year-old pope made the trip despite torn ligaments in his knee which forced him to cancel a visit earlier this month to Africa. The pope’s poor health has also sparked speculation that he may step down.

In April, the pope expressed “sorrow and shame” for the church’s involvement in a Canadian boarding school system that abused Indigenous children for 100 years. From the 1880s to the 1990s, the Canadian government ran a system of boarding schools that in 2015 a National Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a form of “cultural genocide.”

Nearly 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and sent to these schools – 70% of which were run by Catholic religious orders – where abuse and neglect were rampant.

Last year, Canadian officials said more than 1,000 people, the majority of them children, were buried in unmarked graves on the grounds of some of the old schools. The Canadian government and the Protestant churches that ran some of these schools apologized and paid reparations as part of a class action settlement in 2006.

The Pope’s most recent apology — on Canadian soil and in front of thousands of survivors and their families — is part of the Church’s way of making amends for the past.

Clemente Lisi is an editor and regular contributor to Religion Unplugged. He is the former deputy news director at the New York Daily News and teaches journalism at King’s College in New York. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.


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