The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report included a call for the Pope to issue an apology “for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”
The commission urged that the apology be delivered in Canada within a year of the report, which was in 2015.
Arlen Dumas, grand chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, said the role of top leaders in the Catholic Church is implicit in what happened when they refuse to acknowledge the schools.
“The reality is these things happened and happened under the auspice of the church,” Dumas said.
He said the recent lack of an apology was particularly hurtful given Pope Francis’ cultivated image based on humbleness and humility.
Residential schools were created by the federal government as part of a broader effort to strip Indigenous people of their cultures and identity. Children forced to attend were frequently subjected to physical, mental and sexual abuse, and suffered neglect and malnutrition.
Hundreds, if not thousands, are believed to have died at the schools and work is underway in other Indigenous communities to search the sites of other residential schools for unmarked burial sites.
Court Painter’s Papal Views series.