Trudeau Pope apology residential schools

Trudeau calls on Pope to come to Canada to apologize for residential schools

“…not just that he makes an apology but that he makes an apology to Indigenous Canadians on Canadian soil.”

In the wake of the second discovery of unmarked graves on the site of a former residential school in Canada — 751 graves in Saskatechewan, as announced by Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme on Thursday — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stressed the importance of Pope Francis meeting Indigenous Canadians in person to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in the running of residential schools.

“I’ve spoken personally, directly with his holiness Pope Francis to impress upon him how important it is not just that he makes an apology but that he makes an apology to Indigenous Canadians on Canadian soil,” Trudeau said in a press conference on Friday, in reference to his 2015 trip to the Vatican. “I know that the Catholic Church leadership is looking and very actively engaged in what next steps can be taken.”

Shortly after a mass grave was discovered in Kamloops in early June, Pope Francis made reference to the trauma experienced by Canadians, but he did not apologize on behalf of the Church.

Pope Francis expresses sympathy those who suffered at residential schools in Canada

Vatican observers and experts have expressed doubt that an apology from the Pope will be forthcoming, considering the Church’s traditional reluctance to accept responsibility for a culture of abuse and cover-ups, let alone systemic genocide. Pope Francis also issued a blanket apology to the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas on a trip to Bolivia in 2015, which was said to cover Canada. There is also a perception that the Vatican is passing the buck, so to speak, to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to represent the Church in taking the next steps toward reconiliation. The Bishops have announced that they are organizing a trip to the Vatican with a group of Canadian Indigenous leaders so that they can meet with Pope Francis.

In recent weeks, a number of Catholic leaders in Canada have aplogized on behalf of the Church for its role in running residential schools. On Thursday, the Missionary of Oblates of Mary Immaculate — the order that ran 48 residential schools including the ones in Kamloops and the Marieval school in what is now Cowessess, Saskatechewan — said they were “deeply sorry” and pledged to release all records related to those two schools.

Trudeau, who had threatened legal action if the Catholic Church didn’t publish or hand over the relevant documents, said yesterday that some documents have been released and more are forthcoming.

As for the government’s key role in establishing the residential school system, Trudeau said yesterday that it was “an incredible harmful government policy” that Canadians today are “horrified (by) and ashamed” about.

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