I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples.Pope Francis in a speech apologizing for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with the Canadian government in establishing Indigenous residential schools throughout the late 1800’s-1970’s.
Why It Matters: Over 150,000 native children in Canada were sent to government-funded Christian schools and were isolated “from the influence of their homes and culture” in order to be more assimilated into a Western-centered culture (Associated Press). The Pope’s apology is the largest and most forthcoming apology for the Catholic Church’s involvement in the Canadian residential schools, which were established due to government policy.
- The trip has a “solemn purpose,” according to the Vatican: “…the visible head of the Catholic Church is coming to Canada on a mission of repentance and contrition for the harm done to Indigenous Peoples by members of the Church and by ecclesial institutions.” 66 of Canada’s 139 Indigenous schools, reports The Associated Press, were operated by “Catholic religious orders.”
- The Response: One survivor, Evelyn Korkmaz, said, “I’ve waited 50 years for this apology, and finally today I heard it. Part of me is rejoiced, part of me is sad, part of me is numb.” Hundreds of possible burial sites of Indigenous children from the residential schools were identified throughout Canada last year, drawing more attention to the schools’ impact on Indigenous populations.
- Did You Know? According to a 2022 report released by the Vatican, nearly 18% of the world’s population is Catholic — that’s about 1.36 billion people.
- The Pope’s health: The Pope, 85, has recently made headlines for his health. He is currently in a wheelchair due to torn knee ligaments.
Pope apologizes for ‘catastrophic’ school policy in Canada (Associated Press)
Tribal leaders, members react to pope’s apology on schools (Associated Press)
by Jenna Lee,