Canada says pope’s apology to indigenous is not enough

Canada’s government says Pope Francis has apologized to indigenous people for the mistreatment he suffered at the country’s church-run residential schools.

On the second leg of Francis’ week-long visit to Canada, when Francis arrived in Quebec City for meetings with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon at their Quebec residence, the hilltop Citadelle Fort, came the official government response.

Criticisms of the government concern Francis’ omission of any reference to sexual abuse perpetrated by survivors and indigenous children in schools, as well as his refusal to name the Catholic Church as an institution with any responsibility.

Francis has said he is on an “atonement pilgrimage” to atone for the church’s role in the residential school system, in which generations of Indigenous children were forcibly evicted from their homes and church-run, government-funded boarding. was forced to assimilate in schools. them in Christian, Canadian society.


Pope Francis shakes hands with Governor-General Mary Simon (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

The Canadian government has said that physical and sexual abuse is rampant in schools, with students being beaten up for speaking their native language.

Francis apologized on Monday for the “evil” of church workers working in schools and the “devastating” effect of the school system on Indigenous families. In a speech before government officials on Wednesday, Francis issued a fresh apology and described the school system as “deplorable.”

He apologized for “the wrongs done by so many Christians to the indigenous people” as well as “the local Catholic institutions”.

But Francis also noted that the school system was “promoted by government officials at the time” as part of a policy of assimilation and suffrage, of which “local Catholic institutions were a part”.

Indigenous peoples have long demanded that the Pope bear responsibility not only for abuses committed by individual Catholic clergy and religious orders, but for the institutional support of the Catholic Church’s assimilation policy and European colonial expansion for the spread of Christianity. To the 15th-century Religious Justification of the Pope.

More than 150,000 native children in Canada were taken from their homes from the 19th century to the 1970s and placed in schools in an attempt to isolate them from the influence of their families and culture.

Mr Trudeau, a Catholic whose father, Pierre Trudeau, was prime minister while the last residential school was running, insisted that the Catholic Church as an institution was to blame and that more needed to be done for atonement.

Speaking before Francis, he said that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for an apology from the Pope on Canadian soil in 2015, but Francis’ visit “would not have been possible without the courage and perseverance of First Nation survivors”. “. The Inuit and Métis who traveled to the Vatican last spring to file their case for apology.

Trudeau said, “The Roman Catholic Church as an institution is apologetic for the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse that happened to indigenous children in church-run residential schools.”

The Government of Canada has apologized for its role in the school’s legacy. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper issued a formal apology on residential schools in Parliament in 2008, describing them as a sad chapter in Canadian history and saying that the policy of forced assimilation had done much harm.

As part of the settlement of the lawsuit involving the government, churches and approximately 90,000 surviving students, Canada paid compensation that was billions of dollars being transferred to indigenous communities.


Pope Francis apologized for ‘the mistakes so many Christians made to the indigenous people’ as well as ‘the local Catholic institutions’ (John Locher/AP)

The Catholic Church has paid more than US$50 million (£41 million) for its share and intends to add another $30 million over the next five years.

Mr Trudeau said the church needed to do more, and while Francis’ visit had “a huge impact” on the survivors, it was a first step.

In addition to the content of his speech, Mr Trudeau’s remarks broke customary protocol for papal visits. According to diplomatic protocol, only Ms. Simon was to address the Pope as the representative head of state.

But the Vatican said Mr Trudeau’s office had requested the prime minister to allow him to offer some introductory remarks, a request that came before Francis left Rome, but was not supported by the Pope’s itinerary to finalize and Came after printing.

A senior Canadian government official said Mr Trudeau usually makes remarks during foreign leaders’ visits and that it was important for him to address Canadians during Francis’ visit “especially given the importance of the matter”.

Before Francis arrived in Quebec City, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller said the “gaps” in Francis’ apology could not be ignored.

Echoing criticism from some school survivors, Mr Miller said Francis did not mention sexual abuse in his list of abuses endured by Indigenous children in schools.

Francis listed instead physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse on Monday. In addition, Mr Miller noted that Francis spoke of the “evil” committed by individual Christians “but not the Catholic Church as an institution”.