Status: 07/30/2022 04:41
Pope Francis ended his trip to Canada with another apology to the indigenous population. He asked for forgiveness for the violence and abuse their children had endured in the church’s boarding schools.
Pope Francis has called on young indigenous people in northern Canada to preserve their tradition and their land. The boys are the future in the regions, said the 85-year-old Argentine in the coastal city of Iqaluit. The head of the Catholic Church was received in the capital of the northern territory of Nunavut by representatives of the Inuit with traditional throat singing.
According to Pope Francis, it is not enough to live on what others have already created. One must also conquer for oneself what one has received as a gift, the head of the Catholic Church explained further. The world that people inhabited in these regions was the wealth they had inherited.
“Outrage and Shame”
The reason for the Pope’s visit to Canada was to ask forgiveness from the Indigenous peoples of Canada. In Iqaluit, a few hundred kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, it caters mainly to the Inuit. For decades, tens of thousands of indigenous children have faced violence and abuse in boarding schools run by the Catholic Church.
“Even today, even here, I want to tell you that I am very sad and I want to ask for forgiveness,” François continued. He made a point of apologizing for the evil committed by “a lot of Catholics” who contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and deprivation of rights in these schools.
The 85-year-old met with former residents and expressed “outrage and shame” at how Indigenous children were treated in the past. He entered into the “great suffering” of children who were brought to Catholic boarding schools “in order to kill the native in the child’s heart”.
More than 4,000 dead children
Between the late 1800s and the 1990s, the Canadian government sent about 150,000 Indigenous children to boarding schools, most of which were run by the Catholic Church. They have been cut off from their family, their language and their culture. Many of them were physically and sexually abused.
Officially, more than 4,000 children died, according to estimates, there could be more than 6,000. A national commission of inquiry spoke of a “cultural genocide”. The discovery of 1,300 anonymous graves last year had triggered shock waves.
The pope described his trip, which began on Sunday, as a “penitential pilgrimage”. His apology was long overdue. In Canada, Francis spoke of “cultural destruction”, “physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse”.
After the visit to Iqaluit, which lasted about four hours, Francis left for Rome.