Published: Mon, June 07, 2021
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Pope calls for reconciliation, healing over Canada school discovery

Pope calls for reconciliation, healing over Canada school discovery

As the Catholic church faces renewed criticism following the news of an unmarked burial site at a former Kamloops residential school believed to contain the remains of 215 Indigenous children - a priest says the topic will likely be the focus for Sunday mass across the province.

"I join with the Catholic church in Canada in expressing closeness to the Canadian people traumatised by the shocking news, " Francis said. "The sad discovery further raises awareness of the pains and sufferings of the past".

Francis urged political and religious authorities in Canada to continue to work together "to shed light on this sad event and humbly commit themselves to a path of healing and reconciliation".

The discovery last month at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which closed in 1978, reopened old wounds in Canada about the lack of information and accountability around the residential school system, which forcibly separated indigenous children from their families.

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.

"These hard moments represent a strong reminder for all of us to distance ourselves from the model of colonizer ... and to walk side by side in dialogue and in mutual respect in the recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the sons and daughters of Canada", he said. He suggested the Catholic Church follow the lead of the United Church of Canada and the Anglican Church of Canada, both of which formally apologized decades ago for their involvement in the boarding schools for Indigenous people.

"As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years", Trudeau told reporters.

Among the many recommendations of a government-established Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a papal apology.

The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages.

The Prime Minister noted that he had "directly asked" Pope Francis to make the records available during a previous visit to the Vatican but that there was still "resistance".

Although the pope hasn't offered an apology on behalf of the church, other Catholic clergy have. We were not able to contact Knox Presbyterian Church at press time.

"We do want an apology" from the Church, she said, "a public apology, not just for us, but for the world. holding the Church to account".

Last week, the Vatican spokesman didn't respond to requests for comment about the demands for a formal apology from the pope.

Pope Francis previously apologised for the Church's role in colonialism in the Americas.

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