The Catholic bishops of Canada have apologized for the suffering caused by the church’s involvement in the former residency system for Aboriginal children. Hundreds of graves and the remains of children’s bodies were discovered.
“We are aware of the serious abuses committed by some members of our Catholic community: physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural and sexual,” a statement issued Friday (local time) said. It is the Catholic Church’s most comprehensive statement to date on the subject that has been simmering for months.
Suppression of language, culture and spirituality
In it, the bishops asserted that many Catholic religious groups and parishes participated in the ascension system, which resulted in the suppression of indigenous languages, culture, and spirituality.
“Alongside the Catholic institutions directly involved in the running of the schools and which have already offered a sincere apology, we, the Catholic Bishops of Canada, express our deep repentance and emphatically apologize,” she said at the end of the annual General Assembly Letters. Published by the Canadian Bishops’ Conference.
The bishops also announced that they would start fundraising campaigns across the country to support initiatives launched by indigenous communities. In addition, they will work with officials in the Vatican and original partners to examine the possibility of a pastoral visit by the Pope in Canada.
The last time Indigenous leaders asked Pope Francis to apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church on Canadian soil. Some natives are planning a trip to Rome in December to meet the Pope there.
Discover more than 1,000 ancient tombs
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 they were not allowed to speak their mother tongue. An unknown number of children and adolescents were physically or sexually abused, and many died of infectious diseases.
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