Pope: Canadian residential schools were cultural ‘genocide’

Pope Francis acknowledged on Saturday that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a system of church-run boarding schools amounted to cultural “genocide.”

Speaking to reporters on his way back to Rome from Canada, the pontiff said he did not use the term during his visit to atone for the role of the Catholic Church, as it was not his business. came to mind.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada ruled in 2015 that forcibly transferring Indigenous children from their homes to residential schools for assimilation constituted “cultural genocide.”

Between the end of the 19th century and the 1970s, approximately 150,000 children were subjected to this policy of forced assimilation, which aimed to make them fully Christian and Canadian. Physical and sexual abuse was common in schools, and children were beaten for speaking their native language.

“It’s true that I didn’t use the word because it didn’t cross my mind, but I described genocide, didn’t I?” Francis said. “I asked forgiveness, forgiveness for this work which is genocidal.”

The pope said he repeatedly called the system that severed family ties and tried to impose new cultural beliefs “catastrophic” for generations of indigenous people.

In his main apology during his visit to Canada on Monday, Francis spoke of “cultural destruction” but did not use the term “cultural genocide” as many survivors expected.


The Associated Press’ religious coverage is supported by a partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for content.

Alvin Nguyen

"Amateur introvert. Pop culture trailblazer. Incurable bacon aficionado."

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