In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Pope expresses ‘sorrow’ over residential school abuse

Posted by alfied on April 29, 2009

A Canadian member of the AFN (Assembly of the First Nations) wears his traditional headdress as he attends the Pope Benedict XVI  general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican April 29, 2009.  

A Canadian member of the AFN wears his traditional head dress as he attends the Pope Benedic XVI general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican April 29, 2009.
A step foward; but for real healing to take place the Churches now need to admit the exact nature of their involvement in the cultural genocide of the Native American Indians. For background on this go to:

PARIS — Pope Benedict XVI expressed his “sorrow” Wednesday over the suffering of thousands of aboriginal Canadians in residential schools run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The statement came in a communique issued by the Vatican after the pope met with Phil Fontaine, Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, the Most Reverend James Weisgerber, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, and several B.C. aboriginal leaders.

“His Holiness recalled that since the earliest days of her presence in Canada, the Church, particularly through her missionary personnel, has closely accompanied the indigenous peoples,” the statement began.

“Given the sufferings that some indigenous children experienced in the Canadian residential school system, the Holy Father expressed his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church and he offered his sympathy and prayerful solidarity.

“His Holiness emphasized that acts of abuse cannot be tolerated in society. He prayed that all those affected would experience healing, and he encouraged First Nations Peoples to continue to move forward with renewed hope.”

The Catholic Church operated roughly three-quarters of the residential schools that operated in Canada through most of the 20th century.

Fontaine, one of the thousands of abuse victims, called the meeting an “historic” opportunity for reconciliation in a statement.

“It is my fervent hope that this Papal Audience will result in a statement from Pope Benedict XVI to all the survivors of the Indian Residential Schools for the role that the Catholic Church played in the administration and operation of the schools and the harms these schools inflicted on our people,” Fontaine said in a statement.

“This will greatly assist the task of healing and reconciliation for survivors, Catholics and all Canadians.”

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