Pope apologizes for ‘evil’ in Canada

Pope Francis has begged forgiveness from Canada’s indigenous community for Catholic residential schools seizing their children

Pope apologizes for ‘evil’ in Canada

Pope apologizes for ‘evil’ in Canada

The Roman Catholic Church leader sought forgiveness from the indigenous community

Pope Francis on Monday begged forgiveness from Canada’s indigenous community, apologizing for the Roman Catholic Church’s participation in the project of residential schools which a Canadian government body has described as genocidal. The pontiff is on a six-day apology tour of Canada, demanded since last year by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“Dear Indigenous Peoples of Canada, I have come to your native lands to tell you in person of my sorrow, to implore God’s forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, to express my closeness and to pray with you and for you,” the pope tweeted on Monday. 

“I ask forgiveness for the ways in which many members of the Church cooperated in those projects of cultural destruction and assimilation stipulated by the government, which culminated in the system of residential schools,” he added.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” the pope said.

The 85-year-old pontiff arrived in Edmonton on Sunday, for a “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada that will take him from Alberta to Quebec as well as the far-north region of Nunavut. The purpose of the trip is to mend relations with First Nations over the residential schools program, which Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2008-2015) said amounted to “cultural genocide.”

“cultural genocide,” however, indigenous activists have accused the Catholic Church of a physical one as well, alleging widespread sexual abuse and even deaths at residential schools. Last year, several activist groups claimed to have found “mass graves” at four sites, from Kamloops, British Columbia to Saskatchewan.

In the weeks that followed, several Catholic churches across western Canada went up in flames in suspected arson attacks. Trudeau’s response was to denounce the residential schools as a “dark and shameful chapter of our country’s history” and to demand Pope Francis come to Canada and seek forgiveness. 

“disturbances” in the ground, no actual bodies have been found – only to be denounced as “genocide deniers” by much of the Canadian public.