This content was published on Mar 28, 2022 – 14:47
Pope Francis on Monday met at the Vatican with representatives of Canada’s indigenous communities to hear about decades of atrocities committed in the Catholic Church’s boarding schools as a policy of forced assimilation of indigenous peoples.
“We have heard the Pope. He has heard three of the many stories we must share,” Cassidy Caron, president of the National Council of Mestizo, told reporters at the end of the meeting, and “nodded his head as survivors recounted their experiences.”
“I felt some regret for his reactions…the only words he said in English were: ‘Truth, justice and reparation.’ I take that as a personal commitment,” Caron added outside St Peter’s Square.
“We hope that on Friday during the reception with everyone the Pope will acknowledge what we shared with him” and that this “will lead to a general request for forgiveness when he visits Canada,” he said, referring to the possibility of Pope Francis. A trip to that state, the history of which can be announced at that time.
Francis should accede to the request for forgiveness made by representatives of other Christian churches involved in that tragedy as a gesture intended to heal the wounds.
This was the first of a series of meetings in the Vatican with 32 representatives of the indigenous people of Canada, who traveled to Rome and the Vatican accompanied by bishops from that country, for one-on-one meetings with the Pope throughout the week.
The Canadian Catholic Church offered an official apology to indigenous peoples last September after the discovery of more than 1,000 graves near former boarding schools, where children were cut off from their families, language and culture, as a policy of enforced assimilation. – They are called First Nations.
The discovery in February of 54 other unknown graves in two former Aboriginal Catholic residential schools, as well as other burial mounds, shocked the country once again, shedding light on a dark page of history.
Between the late 19th century and the 1980s, about 150,000 Aboriginal, Mestizo, and Eskimo children were forcibly recruited from 139 boarding schools in Canada.
Thousands of them died, mostly from malnutrition, disease or neglect, in what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called a “cultural genocide,” according to a 2015 report. Others were physically or sexually abused.