The Church of Canada has finally made its mea culpa after the recent discovery of more than a thousand graves near former residential schools, according to a statement released Friday, September 24, after the annual plenary assembly of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference from the country.
“We, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep remorse and apologize unequivocally”, they said, grateful “The suffering experienced in residential schools” and the “Serious abuses that have been committed by some members” of the Catholic community.
“Many religious communities and Catholic dioceses have served in this system which has led to the suppression of indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, without respecting the rich history, traditions and wisdom of indigenous peoples. “, they said.
This statement also admits the “Historical and continuing trauma, as well as the legacy of suffering and challenges that continues to this day for indigenous peoples”.
Awaiting an apology from the Pope
In total, more than a thousand anonymous graves near former Catholic Indian residential schools were found this summer, shedding light on a dark page in Canadian history and its policy of forced assimilation of First Nations.
Some 150,000 Native American, Métis, and Inuit children were forcibly conscripted into 139 such residential schools across the country, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture.
Many indigenous groups have repeatedly called for an apology from the Pope. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who has made reconciliation with Indigenous peoples one of his priorities, himself lamented the refusal of the Pope and the Catholic Church to recognize their ” responsibility “ and their “Part of guilt” in the management of residential schools.
The Catholic Bishops of Canada recall that an indigenous delegation will be received by Pope Francis in December.
The apology comes less than a week before the first National Truth and Reconciliation Day, in honor of missing children and residential school survivors, scheduled for September 30.