Pope voices sorrow over Canadian deaths, doesn't apologize

Alonzo Simpson
June 7, 2021

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he was "deeply disappointed" that the Catholic Church had not offered a formal apology for its role in the church-run boarding schools.

Pope Francis expressed sorrow Sunday for the gruesome discovery of a mass grave in Canada containing the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children. Most were run by the Catholic Church on behalf of the government. That's why we have moved forward to co-develop legislation with indigenous peoples called C-92, to make sure that child and family services systems across the country- and this, of course, involves significantly provincial areas of jurisdiction- but to get indigenous kids out of the provincial system and into a system that is centered in their own culture, their own language, their own communities.

Francis said he felt close to "the Canadian people, who have been traumatized by the shocking news".

On Wednesday, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller said on Twitter "the Church was unquestionably wrong", and his archdiocese would be transparent with its archives and records regarding residential schools.

According to the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc Nation, a native Canadian group, the remains belong to the children who were pupils at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which was shut down in 1978.

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools, the majority of them run by Catholic missionary congregations, in a campaign to assimilate them into Canadian society.

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"May the political and religious authorities of Canada continue to work together with determination to shed light on that sad story and to humbly commit themselves to a path of reconciliation and healing", he said.

When asked if the government might compel disclosure, the prime minister responded: "I think, if it is necessary, we will take stronger measures".

"These hard moments represent a strong call to distance ourselves from the colonial model and from today's ideological colonizing and to walk side by side in dialogue, in mutual respect and in recognizing rights and cultural values of all the daughters and sons of Canada", the pope said. Many were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called "cultural genocide".

"We will be sharing the findings, including the technical aspects, with our community and with the home communities of the lost children", said Casimir.

Casimir noted, "in the end, what we do want we do want an apology, a public apology, not just for us, but for the world who also shared in those suffrages".

"There has never been an apology from the Roman Catholics", she added. But to participate in anything that took kids away from their families?

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