Bishops try to clarify Pope’s refusal to apologize for residential schools

Pope Francis has not apologized to survivors of Canada’s notoriously abusive residential schools

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says it’s incorrect to suggest that Pope Francis is refusing to apologize to survivors of Canada’s notoriously abusive residential schools.

The conference has sent a background paper to MPs and senators in a bid to clarify what it characterizes as “misunderstandings and factual errors” in media reports about the Pope’s decision not to personally apologize for the role played by the Roman Catholic Church in operating the schools.

The paper suggests that under the church’s decentralized structure, it’s not appropriate for the Pope to apologize, that it’s best left to Canadian bishops to pursue engagement and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

A papal apology was one of 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Late last month, Bishop Lionel Gendron, president of the conference of bishops, issued a letter to Indigenous Peoples in Canada, indicating that ”after carefully considering the request and extensive dialogue with the bishops of Canada, (the Pope) felt that he could not personally respond.”

That letter disappointed Indigenous leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who had personally asked Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican last year to consider an apology; it also prompted the NDP to propose a motion — supported by the governing Liberals and expected to be debated in the House of Commons this week — calling on the bishops to invite Pope Francis to come to Canada to apologize.

In the background paper sent this week, the conference of bishops says neither the Holy See nor the conference were involved in running the residential schools. But it says the 50 “autonomous” Roman Catholic entities that did operate schools have publicly apologized, both collectively and individually, and paid nearly $60 million in compensation and other payments under a 2006 settlement agreement.

Moreover, the paper notes that the conference of bishops has “on a number of occasions expressed regret and remorse at the involvement by various Catholics” in the schools.

As well, Pope Benedict met with a delegation of Indigenous leaders in 2009 “and expressed sorrow and regret for the abuses suffered” in the schools. At that time, the paper notes that Phil Fontaine, then national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, declared that the meeting with Pope Benedict “closes the circle of reconciliation.”

“To suggest that the Catholic community has not accepted responsibility for its involvement in residential schools is simply inaccurate. The Catholic Church has apologized in the way it is structured,” the paper says.

As for Pope Francis, the paper says he’s encouraging Canadian bishops to “continue taking leadership and assuming their proper role” in pursuing reconciliation and he “remains open to a future visit when it is opportune.”

“Sharing in the pain of Indigenous Peoples, he would certainly ensure such a visit includes meaningful encounters with them.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

CCRD Candidates detail their election platforms

More candidate profiles to come….

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

B.C. passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

More pot stores expected in B.C. in coming ‘weeks and months’: attorney general

Attorney General David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth visited the new BC Cannabis Store in the province’s Interior

Telus launches charitable foundation to help vulnerable youth

The Telus Friendly Future Foundation complements other social initiatives by the company, including Mobility for Good

Police say suspicious death of B.C. artist ruled a homicide

Patrick Zube Aylward’s body was found in a residence on a rural road outside of Seton Portage, west of Lillooet, B.C.

Temporary roads being built in areas affected by landslide in northern B.C.

Emergency Management BC news release says Disaster Financial Assistance is available to eligible residents of the Peace River Regional District who may have been affected by the landslides

B.C. tickets win big in Lotto Max draw

Jackpot carried over; B.C. tickets share Max Millions prizes

Most Read