Pope Francis Begs Forgiveness for Evil Against Indigenous People


    In describing the trip to Canada as “a penitential pilgrimage,” the pontiff stated that he went to Canada “to tell you in person of my sorrow, to implore God's forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, to express my closeness and to pray with you and for you.”

    In a reference to his meetings with representatives from First Nations, Metis, and Inuit in the Vatican earlier in the season, Francis declared that he has an “deep sense of pain and remorse” when he thinks about “the tragic situations that so many of you, your families and your communities have known; of what you shared with me about the suffering you endured in the residential schools.”

    “To remember the devastating experiences that took place in the residential schools hurts, angers, causes pain, and yet it is necessary,” he said.

    “It is necessary to remember how the policies of assimilation and enfranchisement, which also included the residential school system, were devastating for the people of these lands,” the pope stated.

    The assimilation policies “ended up systematically marginalizing the indigenous peoples” and by the use of residence schools “your languages and cultures were denigrated and suppressed,” the pope said.

    “I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry,” said the man. “For the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonization mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples.”

    “I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and of religious communities cooperated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools,” he said.

    It was said that the “overall effects of the policies linked to the residential schools were catastrophic,” he stated. “What our Christian faith tells us is that this was a disastrous error, incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

    “In the face of this deplorable evil, the Church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children,” Francis stated. “I myself would like to reiterate this in a manner that is clear and without ambiguity. I beg for forgiveness for the crimes that have been committed by many Christians against native peoples.”

    The pope continued to say he hopes that Christians and the civil society of this country can improve their capacity to respect and accept the cultural identity and experience of indigenous peoples.

    “It is my hope that concrete ways can be found to make those peoples better known and esteemed, so that all may learn to walk together,”he declared.

    “Know that I am aware of the sufferings and traumas, the difficulties and challenges, experienced by the indigenous peoples in every region of this country,” he said. “The phrases I use during this penitential journey are for each native group and individual. I embrace everyone with love.”

    Today, “I am with you to reminisce about the past, to mourn with you, take a bow in silence, and to pray for the dead. Let this time of quiet to assist us in to process our grief,” he said.


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