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Papal Apology to Indigenous Peoples

  • Bulletin; Human Rights & Equity
Union recognizes historic step towards redressing the legacy of residential schools and reconciliation

BCNU welcomes the apology delivered by Pope Francis to Indigenous peoples for the devastating consequences of the residential school system.

In his statement to the hundreds of Indigenous people who had gathered in Maskwacis, Alberta, the Pope apologized for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous Peoples. He went on to address the crowd directly: "I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the church and of religious communities co-operated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools."

The apology is a fulfillment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action 58:

We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.

Learn more about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and review the 94 calls to action here.

For those requiring emotional support, the National Residential School Crisis Line is available 24 hours per day, 1-866-925-4419.

Following delegations of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples to Rome in March of 2022, Pope Francis is in Canada July 24 – 29, 2022, visiting Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit on what the Pope has called a 'penitential pilgrimage'.  

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