Church apology to indigenous Canadians needed

An apology from the Catholic Church to indigenous Canadians is important, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Pope Francis in an audience this week.

There is much to apologise to Canada’s indigenous community for, Trudeau indicated.

He told Francis about a third (150,000) of indigenous Canadians were forcibly removed from their families  and put into residential schools where they were taught English, Christianity and customs that weren’t their own.

The Catholic Church was especially predominant in these activities, he said.

The result is many native traditions and languages were eventually diluted and lost.

Furthermore, many children at the schools were physically and sexually abused.

About 6,000 died while at the schools.

In 2009, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI apologised for the Church’s part in these abuses during a meeting with the head of the Canadian National Assembly, Phil Fontaine.

Trudeau used his audience with Francis to suggest the apology move forward to the reconciliation stage.

Other topics they discussed included climate, religious and ethnic diversity and immigration.

At the end of the meeting, Francis gave Trudeau a medallion symbolising forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance.

The medallion includes the words: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

Francis also gave trudeau a copy of his environmental encyclical Laudato Si, as well as copies of his 2015 Apostolic Exhortation on the family “Amoris Laetitia” and his 2013 exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium.”

Along with the three customary documents, the Pope also gave Trudeau a signed copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace.


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