The Canadian government wants Pope Francis to issue a formal apology tied to the role of the Catholic church role in the country’s residential school system. This comes not long after the bodies of 215 children were located in the area of what was once the largest school in Canada, the Kamloops Indian Residential school.

The discovery of the 215 bodies was found last month as shared by Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation in British Columbia. The remains of the children were spotted at the school in Kamloops, British Columbia through a ground-penetrating radar. Not a single body has been excavated so far.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was once the largest facility in Canada and was backed by the Roman Catholic church from 1890 to 1969. The federal government closed down the school in 1978.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommended a papal apology as part of a government apology and settlement over the school. It was the prime minister who asked the pope to consider a gesture during a visit to the Vatican in 2017.

However, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in 2018 that the pope could not personally apologize. This was even though he did not shy away from recognizing injustices faced by Indigenous people around the world.

“I think it is shameful that it hasn’t been done to date,” Marc Miller, Indigenous services minister, said. “There is a responsibility that lies squarely on the shoulders” on the Catholic bishops of Canada.”

As far as Carolyn Bennett, Indigenous relations minister is concerned, an apology from the pope could help those who suffered from it.

It was in the 19th century where more than 150,000 First Nations children were required to attend state-funded Christian schools as part of a program to assimilate them into Canadian society. That included them having to convert to Christianity and not speak in their native tongue. However, many of them were beaten and verbally abused. Roughly around 6,000 have reportedly died as a result.

“I know people are eager for answers but we do have to respect the privacy and mourning period of those communities that are collecting their thoughts and putting together protocols on how to honor these children,” Miller stated.

Pope Francis
Italian prisoners left Pope Francis sitting at the table to escape! The local police is trying to find the two fugitives.  Photo: Getty Images

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