Pope Francis is wheeled beside Indigenous chiefs after visiting the Ermineskin Cree Nation Cemetery in Maskwacis, Alta., during his papal visit across Canada on Monday, July 25, 2022. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

Pope Francis is wheeled beside Indigenous chiefs after visiting the Ermineskin Cree Nation Cemetery in Maskwacis, Alta., during his papal visit across Canada on Monday, July 25, 2022. The Canadian Press/Nathan Denette

LETTER: Pope’s hand kiss may not suffice for many

Indigenous people suffered immense inhumanity

The widely circulating news-photo of Pope Francis kissing the hand of the Indigenous residential-school survivor, assuming it was a truly heartfelt act, was both moving and significant, at least to me.

Though I’m not a fan of Catholicism nor the pope, the image somewhat brought to mind how the Biblical Jesus most profoundly washed his disciples’ feet, the act clearly revealing that he took corporeal form to serve. And that he, as a hopeful example of the humility of the divine, joined humankind in our miseries, joys and everything in between.

Regardless, many Indigenous people have learned the hardest way about being considered disposable, and likely feel the Pope’s hand-kiss definitely will not suffice.

Yes, human beings can actually be consciously or subconsciously perceived and treated as though they are disposable. By extension, their suffering and death are somehow less worthy of external concern, even by otherwise relatively civilized countries and their religious institutions.

Along with the inhuman(e) treatment they suffered while living in the religious residential schools, the immense inhumanity is also evident with the many Indigenous children who were deemed unworthy even to be buried in properly marked graves by Christ’s supposed messengers, let alone their remains returned to their Indigenous families.

Jesus must be spinning!

Frank Sterle Jr.

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Pope Francis kisses the hand of residential school survivor Elder Alma Desjarlais of the Frog Lake First Nation as Chief Greg Desjarlais left looks on as he arrives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

Pope Francis kisses the hand of residential school survivor Elder Alma Desjarlais of the Frog Lake First Nation as Chief Greg Desjarlais left looks on as he arrives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Sunday, July 24, 2022. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)