Pope Francis speaks from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican to a crowd of faithful and pilgrims gathered for the Sunday Angelus noon prayer, Sunday, June 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Pope Francis speaks from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at The Vatican to a crowd of faithful and pilgrims gathered for the Sunday Angelus noon prayer, Sunday, June 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

Pope voices ‘pain’ over Canadian deaths, doesn’t apologize

Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed his pain over the discovery in Canada of the remains of 215 Indigenous students of church-run boarding schools and pressed religious and political authorities to shed light on “this sad affair.” But he didn’t offer the apology sought by the Canadian prime minister.

Francis, in remarks to faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, also called on the authorities to foster healing but made no reference to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s insistence, two days earlier, that the Vatican apologize and take responsibility.

READ MORE: Trudeau calls on Catholic Church to take responsibility for residential schools

From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools, the majority of them run by Catholic missionary congregations, in a campaign to assimilate them into Canadian society.

The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages.

Ground-penetrating radar was used to confirm the remains of the children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, British Columbia, last month. The school was Canada’s largest such facility and was operated by the Catholic church between 1890 and 1969.

“I am following with pain the news that arrives from Canada about the upsetting discovery of the remains of 215 children,” Francis said in his customary Sunday noon remarks to the public.

“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,” Francis said.

”This sad discovery adds to the awareness of the sorrows and sufferings of the past,” he added.

Trudeau on Friday blasted the church for being “silent” and “not stepping up,″ and called on it to formally apologize and to make amends for its prominent role in his nation’s former system of church-run Indigenous boarding schools.

He noted that when he met with Francis at the Vatican in 2017 he had asked him to ”move forward on apologizing” and on making records available. But, Trudeau said, “we’re still seeing resistance from the church, possibly from the church in Canada.”

READ MORE: B.C. Catholic archbishop apologizes for ‘unquestionably wrong’ residential schools

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia has said her nation wants a public apology from the Catholic church. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, which ran nearly half of Canada’s residential schools, has yet to release any records about the Kamloops school, she also said.

Francis’ comments spoke of healing but not of apology.

“May the political and religious authorities continue to collaborate with determination to shed light on this sad affair and to commit humbly to a path of reconciliation and healing,″ Francis said.

“These difficult moments represent a strong call to distance ourselves from the colonial model and from today’s ideological colonizing and to walk side by side in dialogue, in mutual respect and in recognizing rights and cultural values of all the daughters and sons of Canada,” the pope said.

“Let’s entrust to the Lord the souls of all those children, deceased in the residential schools of Canada,” the pontiff added. “Let us pray for the families and for the indigenous Canadian communities overcome by sorrow.” Francis then asked the public in the square below his window to join him in silent prayer.

The United, Presbyterian and Anglican churches have apologized for their roles in the abuse, as has the Canadian government, which has offered compensation.

Among the many recommendations of a government-established Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a papal apology.

Frances D’emilio, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read