Apology by Pope Francis:
Response and Parliamentary Motion
Recently there has been some publicity concerning an apology from Pope Francis for the residential school survivors. The Pope’s response refers to the specific request: “We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada” (TRC, n. 58).
At present, the Pope is not able to respond personally to this request, but he is very open to visiting Canada in the future, when he would be able to respond to this request. At the same time, the Pope asked that more concrete work be done on the local level to assist in developing ongoing relationships between the church and Indigenous peoples and in continuing the pastoral engagement that is already happening.
The Pope is quite conscious of how aboriginal peoples are treated and, over the past five years, he has been adamant that they be treated well. He has already apologized in 2015 to all Indigenous peoples of the Americas for abuses suffered. As well he called attention in January 2018 to past and present wrongs which have affected native peoples.
Throughout the country, the bishops are involved in listening sessions with Indigenous People with a view to writing a pastoral letter that will strengthen the relationship between the Church and Indigenous Peoples. Within our diocese, we have a Mi’kmaq Pastoral Council that deals with issues that are of particular concern to the Mi’kmaq people.
For clarifications amd background information from the CCCB, especially in relationship to a motion that has been introduced in Parliament asking the Pope “to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church to Indigenous people for the Church’s role in the residential school system as outlined in Call to Action 58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report,” see the letter and document here.
Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn
Bishop of Antigonish