Pope Francis apologizes for 'deplorable evil' of residential schools

He was welcomed by Indigenous leaders along with chanting, drumming, song, and dance.

Roberto Wakerell-Cruz Montreal QC

Pope Francis apologized to Canada's Indigenous communities on native land on Monday, as the Catholic Church seeks to make amends for its role in residential schools that separated Indigenous children from their families and stripped them of their culture, something he called a "deplorable evil" and a "disastrous error."

Francis spoke at the site of two former residential schools in Maskwavix, Alberta. He also apologized for Christan support of the "colonizing mentality" of the times, and called for a "serious investigation" of the schools to assist survivors, reports Reuters.

"With shame and unambiguously, I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the indigenous peoples," he told the crowd.

Francis, 85, is kicking off his apology tour after he promised the Indigenous delegation that visited him earlier this year at the Vatican that he would do so.

The Pope already officially apologized earlier this year in April.

"I also feel shame ... sorrow and shame for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, and the abuses you suffered and the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values," he said.

"For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God's forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon."

On Monday, Francis was welcomed by Indigenous leaders along with chanting, drumming, song, and dance.

"Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples. I am sorry," he said. "In the face of this deplorable evil, the Church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children.

"I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and of religious communities cooperated, 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 Pope said.


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