Trudeau requires an apology from the Vatican for the abuse within the church

TORONTO (AP) – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he was “deeply disappointed” that the Roman Catholic Church failed to offer a formal apology and made amends for its role in Canada’s former system of church indigenous boarding schools after the remains of 215 children were housed in what was once the largest facility in the country.

Trudeau urged the church to “step in” and take responsibility after years of silence.

“As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed in the position the Catholic Church has taken now and in recent years,” said Trudeau.

“When I went to the Vatican a few years ago I directly asked His Holiness Pope Francis to proceed with the apology, request for forgiveness, reparation and the provision of these records, and we are still seeing opposition from the Church, possibly from the Church in Canada. “

But Trudeau said the church is “mute” and “does not perform”.

“It doesn’t show leadership, which, quite frankly, should be at the core of our faith, forgiveness, responsibility and acknowledgment of the truth,” Trudeau said.

He said the government has “tools” to use when the church itself does not issue documents.

From the 19th century through the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children in Canada were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools in order to integrate them into Canadian society. The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in schools and that students were beaten for speaking their mother tongue.

Trudeau said Catholics across the country should turn to bishops and cardinals on the matter.

“We expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role and be there to help with the grief and healing, including the record keeping,” Trudeau said. “That is what the United Church and others have done. We are still waiting for the Catholic Church to do that. “

The Vatican spokesman did not respond this week to requests for comment on calls for a formal apology from the Pope.

Former Pope Benedict met with a group of former students and victims in 2009 and told them about his “personal fear” about their suffering, a meeting that has been described as an expression of sadness and solidarity.

The Canadian Catholic Bishops’ Conference announced in 2018 that the Pope could not personally apologize for boarding schools, although he has not shied away from recognizing injustices committed by indigenous peoples around the world.

However, the Archbishop of Vancouver apologized on Wednesday.

The United, Presbyterian and Anglican churches have already apologized for their role in the abuse, as has the Canadian government, which has offered compensation.

Head of Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia, Rosanne Casimir, said the remains of 215 children were confirmed by ground penetrating radar last month at school in Kamloops, British Columbia. None have been excavated so far.

Casimir said her nation wanted a public apology from the Catholic Church. She adds that Mary Immaculate’s missionary wafers, who operated nearly half of Canada’s boarding schools, have not yet published a record of the school.

Casimir said the nation’s results so far are preliminary and it expects a final report with technical details to be in place by the end of the month.

“This is not a mass grave, but rather unmarked grave sites which, to our knowledge, are also undocumented,” she said.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was Canada’s largest institution of its kind and was operated by the Roman Catholic Church between 1890 and 1969. The federal government then ran it as a day school until 1978 when it was closed. Almost three quarters of the 130 schools were run by Catholic mission congregations.

A papal apology was one of 94 recommendations from a government-appointed Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Trudeau asked the Pope to consider such a gesture during his 2017 visit to the Vatican.

Nelson Wiseman, professor of political science at the University of Toronto, said Trudeau failed to indicate in his reprimand that boarding schools were created and funded by the government. “The Catholic Church ran most of the schools but devoted very little of its own resources to them beyond government-paid staff,” Wiseman said.


Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield in Rome contributed to this report.

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