Trudeau "disappointed" Catholic Church refuses to release residential school records

Ruben Fields
June 7, 2021

But he stopped short of the direct apology some Canadians had demanded.

Run by the government and church groups, majority Catholic, the schools' stated aim was to assimilate indigenous children. Media reports indicate the Church of Christ the King (Catholic) will also participate.

Francis urged political and religious authorities in Canada to continue to work together "to shed light on this sad event and humbly commit themselves to a path of healing and reconciliation".

The discovery this week of the remains of the children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which closed in 1978, has reopened old wounds and is fuelling outrage about a persistent lack of information and accountability. "He won't say 'There's 215 children in an unmarked grave in Kamloops and probably every residential school in Canada'".

"The Catholic Church as a whole in Canada was not associated with the residential schools, nor was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops", it said. "This sad discovery increases the awareness of the sorrows and sufferings of the past".

However, he did not mention Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's calls for him to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in Canadian residential schools, nor did he offer an apology. When I went to the Vatican a number of years ago, I directly asked his holiness, Pope Francis, to move forward on apologizing, on asking for forgiveness, on restitution, on making these records available.

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"These hard moments represent a strong reminder for all of us to distance ourselves from the model of colonizer ... and to walk side by side in dialogue and in mutual respect in the recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the sons and daughters of Canada", he said.

"I think we as Christians need to be particularly regretful and sorry that we took part in that particular system", he said, according to the Toronto Sun.

Although Francis expressed sorrow on Sunday, he never explicitly apologized for the church's role in the forced reeducation of more than 150,000 children, who were taken from their homes over a period of 150 years during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Miller tweeted his "deep apology and profound condolences to the families and communities that have been devastated by this horrific news". Many were subjected to abuse, rape and malnutrition in what Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called "cultural genocide". The churchman, who leads Catholics in that British Columbia archdiocese, added that the church was "unquestionably wrong in implementing a government colonialist policy which resulted in devastation for children, families and communities".

Pope Francis previously apologised for the Church's role in colonialism in the Americas.

In 2009, then Pope Benedict XVI met with former students and survivors and told them of his "personal anguish" over their suffering.

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