As of: 07/25/2022 8:28 p.m
Scores of Indigenous children have been abused and victims of sexual violence at church-run boarding schools in Canada. Now the Pope has apologized on Canadian soil. “The church kneels before God and asks forgiveness,” he said.
Pope Francis has asked Indigenous peoples of Canada for forgiveness for crimes committed against indigenous children by church officials. “I humbly ask for forgiveness for the evil done by so many Christians to the indigenous peoples,” he told survivors of former residential schools on the site of a former boarding school in the village of Maskwacis.
Members of the Catholic Church and religious orders have participated in “projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation” of the indigenous people, Francis said. This had its climax in the “system of boarding schools”. The forced integration of children into Christian society destroyed their culture and tore families apart. The consequences of these actions can still be felt today.
“Church Kneels and Asks Forgiveness”
In his speech to around 2,000 people – including Governor General Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau – the Pope recalled the injustice in state-run boarding schools run by churches. Francis absorbed what survivors had already told him: how “your languages and cultures were denigrated and oppressed; how children were abused physically and verbally, psychologically and spiritually; how they were taken from their homes from an early age”.
Therefore, according to the Pope, “the Church kneels before God and asks forgiveness for the sins of her children”. He feels pain and regret, said the 85-year-old.
150,000 children torn from their families
From 1895 to 1975 Ermineskin boarding school, one of the largest boarding schools in the country, was located in Maskwacis. By the 1880s, an estimated 150,000 Aboriginal children in Canada had been separated from their families and culture and placed in boarding schools. In the institutions established by the state and run by churches, they should be adapted to the culture of the European immigrants. Many children were abused there or victims of sexual violence, hundreds died as a result of disease, starvation or in connection with abuse. Indigenous people had demanded a papal apology on Canadian soil for the involvement of the Catholic Church, but also other steps.
Pope Francis asks forgiveness of Canada’s indigenous people
Marion Schmickler, ARD New York, daily news at 8:00 p.m., July 25, 2022
With the long-awaited apology, Francis opened his week-long trip to Canada. With his words, he went beyond his earlier comments on the actions of the missionaries and accepted responsibility for the church’s support of the policy towards the indigenous people. In a message on the short message service Twitter, Francis wrote before his departure that he hoped that his visit would contribute to the “journey of reconciliation” that had already begun.
Pope meets indigenous people in Maskwacis, Canada
Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD Rome, currently Edmonton, 25.7.2022 8:41 p.m