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Pope Francis issues a historic apology for ‘devastating’ school abuses

Aug 24, 2022 09:48:05 AM

Pope Francis issued a historic apology for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with Canada’s “catastrophic” policy of Indigenous residential schools, saying the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their

cultures, severed families and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today.

“I am sorry,” Francis said, to applause from school survivors and Indigenous community members gathered at a former residential school south of Edmonton, Alberta, the first event of Francis’ week long “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada.

After he arrived in the country, Francis travelled to the lands of four Cree nations to pray at a cemetery. Four chiefs then escorted the pontiff in his wheelchair to powwow ceremonial grounds where he delivered the long-sought apology and was given a feathered headdress.

I humbly beg for forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, now largely torn down.

His words went beyond his earlier apology for the “deplorable” acts of missionaries and instead took responsibility for the church’s institutional cooperation with the “catastrophic” assimilation policy, which Canada’s Truth and econciliation Commission said amounted to a “cultural genocide.”

Photo courtesy Pope Francis meets representatives of Indigenous communities in Canada

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