Sunday schools

Pope Francis calls for abandonment of colonial mentality after discovery of Indigenous children buried in Canada

Pope Francis today expressed his “pain” at the shocking news from Canada of the discovery of the remains of 215 children who were students at Kamloops Indian Residential School in the province of British Columbia.

He invited pilgrims to St. Peter’s Square to pray to the Angelus on June 6 to join him in silent prayer for “the dead children” and for “the families and communities of the indigenous peoples of Canada crushed by the pain ”.

It was his first public statement on this tragic situation since the news broke earlier this week.

He told those in attendance and a following worldwide audience online: “I join with the Canadian Bishops and the entire Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people traumatized by the shocking news.”

He said: “The sad discovery further heightens awareness of past pain and suffering,” and expressed the hope that “Canadian political and religious authorities can continue to cooperate with determination to shed light on this sad situation and humbly commit to a path of reconciliation and healing.

“Canadian political and religious authorities can continue to cooperate with determination to shed light on this sad situation and humbly embark on the path of reconciliation and healing.

Pope Francis declared: “These difficult times push us all to move away from a colonizing model, but also from the colonizing ideologies of today, and to walk side by side in dialogue, in mutual respect and in peace. recognition of the rights and cultural values ​​of all sons and daughters of Canada.

He concluded his remarks by inviting those in attendance and the global audience following online to join him in silent prayer for the dead children and for the families and communities of the Indigenous peoples of Canada who have suffered so much.

“We entrust to God the souls of all the children who died in residential schools in Canada and we pray for the families and communities of the Indigenous peoples of Canada crushed by pain,” he said.

According to BBC, Kamloops Residential School was the largest of more than 130 similar schools. He said the school, which operated between 1890 and 1969, accommodated up to 500 Indigenous students at a time, many of whom were sent to live at the school hundreds of kilometers from their families. Between 1969 and 1978 it was used as a residence for students attending local day schools.

The BBC said residential schools were operated in Canada between 1874 and 1996 and were “a mainstay of the government’s policy of forced assimilation”. He added that “some 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were taken from their families during this period and placed in state-run boarding schools. When attendance became compulsory in the 1920s, parents were threatened with jail if they did not comply.

The BBC said: “The policy has traumatized generations of indigenous children, who have been forced to give up their mother tongue, speak English or French and convert to Christianity. Christian churches have played a vital role in the founding and functioning of schools. The Roman Catholic Church in particular was responsible for operating up to 70% of residential schools, according to the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.

“These difficult times push us all to distance ourselves from a colonizing model, but also from the colonizing ideologies of today.”

The pope’s statement comes after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau previously called on the church to shoulder its share of responsibility for running schools. Already in 2017, Mr. Trudeau visited Pope Francis in the Vatican and asked him to come to Canada and apologize on behalf of the church, as requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Sources in Rome said America that Francis had discussed the issue of these schools with the Canadian bishops during their ad limina visit to Rome in 2017 and the possibility that he would travel to Canada to apologize to the indigenous peoples of the country for the past wrongs committed by the church in this country. It appears that Francis was ready to travel to Canada, but there was no consensus among the bishops for this, and his visit therefore remains on hold.

Last Wednesday, after the news broke, Canadian channel CTV reported that the Catholic Archdiocese of Regina had published a statement of apology acknowledging his role in the operation of four residential schools in the region and his moral obligation to assist in healing where he wishes.

Archbishop Donald Bolen, a leader in this field among Canadian bishops, said what he has heard most over these years is the desire for the church to take responsibility for its actions. “Responsibility in the Archdiocese means turning to the four nations where there was a boarding school and where there are cemeteries and initiating conversations there,” the Archbishop said. CTV reported that the Archdiocese is in active conversation with Indigenous leaders and communities about steps it can take to reconcile and mend broken relationships.

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