Abuse in boarding schools: Pope plans trip to meet Aboriginal people in Canada

Status: 27.10.2021 6:34 PM

Hundreds of graves of Aboriginal children have been discovered since May on the property of former church boarding schools in Canada. Pope Francis has now announced that he will be traveling to the country. This may be an opportunity for a papal apology.

Pope Francis has agreed to travel to the country amid revelations about the abuse and deaths of thousands of Aboriginal children in former boarding schools in Canada. It was called by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Canada — “also in the context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples,” the Vatican declared. Francis wanted to support the ongoing efforts.

Flight time is still open. He simply said: “Francis is ready to visit the country at a time to be determined.” The pilgrimage may be an occasion for a papal apology.

Discover more than 1,000 graves

Since the end of May, more than 1,000 graves with children’s remains have been discovered by ground-penetrating radar on the property of a former boarding school in Canada. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it is estimated that more than 100,000 children of Aboriginal mothers were placed – often forcibly – in Canadian homes. Many of the more than 130 institutions nationwide were run by Catholic religious orders. They should introduce the children to “Christian civilization” on behalf of the state.

Often the children were not allowed to speak their mother tongue. An unknown number of children and adolescents were physically or sexually abused; Many infectious diseases died.

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Apology requests from the church

The last time indigenous tribal leaders asked Francis to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church on Canadian soil. Similar demands came from the Canadian government. Canada’s Minister for Indigenous Relations, Mark Miller, said he expected the pope to “fully appreciate the damage” done to indigenous peoples. “In the broad context of what we call indigenous reconciliation, this full recognition is something the Holy Father himself has long been waiting for,” Miller said.

Meeting with the survivors in the Vatican

The Pope had already agreed to meet the original survivors of the notorious Canadian boarding schools in December. The Conference of Bishops announced that Francis had invited delegations of survivors to the Vatican and that they would meet in three groups—First Nations, Metis, and Inuit—from December 17-20. Finally, he will lead an audience with all three groups.

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins said the December meetings will help lay the groundwork for the Pope’s trip to Canada. “Over the course of several days, Pope Francis will listen directly to those who have suffered through genuine listening and dialogue.”

A few weeks ago, the Catholic bishops of Canada apologized for the suffering caused by the church’s involvement in the former residency system for Aboriginal children. “We are aware of the grave abuses committed by some members of our Catholic community: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural and sexual,” said the bishops’ statement on the issue, which has been simmering for months. They emphasized that many Catholic denominations and parishes were involved in the boarding school system, which had led to the suppression of the indigenous language, culture, and spirituality.

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