Pope Francis has apologized for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with Canada’s ‘devastating’ residential school policy, saying the forced assimilation of Indigenous peoples into Christian society has destroyed their cultures, separated their families and marginalized them generations in a way that is still felt today.
“I humbly ask forgiveness for the wrong done by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said near the site of the now largely demolished former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, on the lands of four Cree nations south of Edmonton, Alberta.
The long-awaited apology opened Francis’ week-long “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, which aims to help the Church on its path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and help victims heal. Francis’s words on Monday went beyond his earlier apologies for the “deplorable” acts of the missionaries and instead took responsibility for the Church’s institutional cooperation with the “catastrophic” policy of assimilation, which, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, amounts to “cultural genocide”. “
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