Pope Francis apologizes again as Canada visit to Nunavut draws to a close |  religion news

Pope Francis apologizes again as Canada visit to Nunavut draws to a close | religion news

Warning: The following story contains details of boarding schools that may be disturbing. Canada’s Indian Residential School Survivors and Family Crisis Line is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Pope Francis has once again apologized for the “evil” committed by members of the Catholic Church in boarding schools as he concluded a six-day “penitential trip” to Canada that drew mixed reactions.

The pope traveled to Iqaluit, capital of the northern territory of Nunavut, on Friday to meet privately with dorm survivors and attend a public event before flying back to Rome.

He shook hands with members of an Indigenous delegation who welcomed him upon his arrival in the town of about 7,700, and was greeted with applause at the start of the event, which began with traditional Inuit song and dance.

“Recently I was listening to some of you who were dorm students. Thank you for having the courage to tell your stories and to share your great suffering that I could not have imagined,” Pope Francis told the crowd.

“This has only renewed in me the indignation and shame that I have felt for months … I want to tell you how sorry I am and ask forgiveness for the evil committed by not a few Catholics living in these schools policies of cultural assimilation and disenfranchisement have contributed to this.”

Earlier this week, the pope apologized for the first time in Canada for residential schools, the abusive forced assimilation facilities that more than 150,000 indigenous children were forced to attend for decades between the late 19th century and the 1990s.

“I humbly seek forgiveness for the evil that so many Christians have committed against indigenous peoples,” he said during an event Monday in Maskwacis, near Edmonton in western Alberta, describing the impact of the institutions as “catastrophic.”

The Catholic Church operated much of the 139 state-mandated boarding schools that operated across Canada, in what a commission of inquiry in 2015 called “cultural genocide.”

For decades, Indigenous leaders had called on the church to apologize for its role in the school system, and the papal apology offered this week was hailed by some survivors as an important step toward healing.

Others have urged Pope Francis to go further and recognize the institutional role of the Catholic Church in the damage done to hostels, and not just apologize for the actions of church members.

“Despite this historic apology, the Holy Father’s statement left a deep hole in the recognition of the church’s full role in the boarding school system by blaming individual members of the church,” said Murray Sinclair, former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC), said in a expression in this week.

“It is important to emphasize that the church was not just a representative of the state or just a participant in government policy, but a leading contributor to the darkest chapters in this country’s history,” Sinclair said.

A person holds a sign that reads
A person holds a protest sign calling on the Pope to repeal the Discovery Doctrine during the event in Iqaluit, Nunavut, July 29, 2022 [Guglielmo Mangiapane/Reuters]

Indigenous leaders and community advocates have also urged Pope Francis to repeal the doctrine of discovery, a concept contained in papal bulls of the 15th century.

The papal bulls played a key role in the European conquest of the Americas, and their impact is still being felt by indigenous peoples across the region today.

“These papal decrees became the basis for the legalized ownership of all lands in North America that we call Turtle Island. It remains ingrained in the constitutional, legislative and legal systems of Canada and the United States,” the Haudenosaunee Committee on External Relations said in a expression On Wednesday.

“An apology to tribal peoples without action is just empty words. The Vatican must repeal these papal bulls and stand up for the rights of tribal peoples on their lands in courts, legislatures and elsewhere around the world.”

Meanwhile, one of the main demands of the Inuit communities in Nunavut was the extradition from France of a Catholic priest accused of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory, where he was stationed between the 1960s and 1990s.

Canadian media reported this week that the Justice Department had issued an extradition request for Johannes Rivoire. It did not provide any further details.

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