Pope Francis’ apology to Canada’s Indigenous peoples falls short, government says

Canada — The Canadian government made it clear on Wednesday that the Pope’s apology Francis indigenous peoples for the abuses in the boarding schools that the Church used to run in the country are insufficient, and suggested that reconciliation around the painful history remains largely a work in progress.

The official reaction of the government was issued on the arrival of the pontiff in Quebec to meet the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Governor General Mary Simon at that city’s official residence, the hilltop fortress of the Citadel, during the second leg of the Pope’s weeklong visit to Canada.

The government’s criticism echoes that of some survivors and concerns Francis’ failure to make any reference to the sexual abuse of indigenous children in schools, as well as his initial reluctance to declare that the Catholic Church as institution was responsible for the case. .

Francis said he was making a “penitential pilgrimage” to atone for the Church’s role in the boarding school system, in which Generations of Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and forced to attend these church and government funded institutions to assimilate them into Canadian Christian society. The Canadian government said physical and sexual abuse was constant in schools, with students beaten for speaking their native language.

The pope apologized on Monday for the “wickedness” of church personnel working in schools and for the “catastrophic” aftermath of the school system in indigenous families. In a speech to government officials on Wednesday, Francis reiterated his apologies and censured the school system, calling it “deplorable”.

The pontiff noted that this system was “promoted by the government authorities of the time” as part of a policy of assimilation and emancipation. But In response to criticism, he added that “several local Catholic institutions were involved”.

Indigenous peoples have long demanded that the pope take responsibility not only for the abuses committed by certain Catholic priests and religious orders, but also for the institutional support of the Catholic Church for the policies of assimilation and the religious justification of the papacy in the 15th century. century in the face of European colonization. expansion to spread Christianity.

More than 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were removed from their homes from the 19th century to the 1970s and placed in schools in an effort to isolate them from the influence of their family and culture.

Trudeau, a Catholic whose father, Pierre Trudeauwas prime minister when the last boarding schools were still operating, insisted that the Catholic Church, as an institution, bears guilt and must do more to atone for it.

In words to Francis, Trudeau noted that the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission had called in 2015 for the Pope to apologize on Canadian soil and that Francis’ visit “would not have been possible without the courage and perseverance” of First Nations survivors. , Inuit and Métis, who visited the Vatican a few months ago to press for their request for an apology.

“Apologize for the role the Catholic Church, as an institution, has played in the mistreatment, spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by Indigenous children in boarding schools run by the Church”Trudeau said.

The Canadian government has already apologized for its role in the schools’ legacy. In 2008, the then prime minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to Parliament for the residential schools, saying they were a sad chapter in Canadian history and noting that the policy of forced assimilation had done great damage.

Alvin Nguyen

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