Pope Francis expressed, this Sunday (6), his “pain” at the discovery in Canada of the remains of 215 indigenous children in the premises of a former boarding school of the Catholic Church, although without apologizing, despite multiple calls in this regard.
“I follow with pain the news that reaches us from Canada concerning the shocking discovery of the mortal remains of 215 children” in British Columbia (west), declared the pope at the end of the traditional prayer of the Sunday Angelus on St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. .
On Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau lamented the Pope’s and the Catholic Church’s refusal to acknowledge their “responsibility” and “part of the blame” for running residential schools for Indigenous children in Canada.
He urged Canadian Catholics to speak to their priests and bishops to “carry the message to them that it is time for the Catholic Church to recognize its responsibility, its share of guilt and, above all, to be there for the truth to be known”. .
On Sunday, the pope avoided going that far and simply said, “I join the Canadian bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my solidarity with the Canadian people marked by this terrible news.
“This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and suffering of the past. May the political and religious authorities of Canada continue to work together with determination to shed light on this sad affair and humbly commit to embarking on the path of reconciliation and healing. he added.
“These difficult times represent a strong call to all of us to move away from the colonizing model and also from the current ideological colonizations, and walk side by side on the path of dialogue, mutual respect and recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the children and girls of Canada”, he said, who invited the pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square to pray in silence for the victims and their families.
Calls from Indigenous groups for the pope to apologize have grown in recent days after the remains of schoolchildren were found last week at a former boarding school in Kamloops run by the Catholic Church from 1890 to 1969.
Some 150,000 Native American, Métis and Inuit (Eskimo, a term that currently has a pejorative connotation in Canada) children were forcibly interned in 139 such boarding schools across the country, where they were isolated from their families, language and their culture.
In 2015, a national commission of inquiry qualified these practices as “cultural genocide”.
The Canadian Episcopal Conference on Monday called the discovery of the remains “overwhelming” and expressed its “deep sadness”, but without issuing a formal apology.
On Tuesday, Canadian minister Marc Miller called the lack of an apology from the pope and the Catholic Church “shameful”.
A few hours after the Minister’s statements, the Archbishop of Vancouver, Michael Miller, offered his “sincere apologies and deep condolences to the families”.
“The Church was unquestionably wrong to implement a colonialist government policy that was devastating to children, families and communities,” he said.
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