Pope Francis apologized to indigenous Canadians on Monday for reported abuses of school children by missionaries at residential schools.
“I am deeply sorry — sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said, according to The Washington Post.
“It is painful to think of how the firm soil of values, language and culture that made up the authentic identity of your peoples was eroded, and that you have continued to pay the price of this,” Francis continued.
During his visit to Canada, Pope Francis stopped by a cemetery near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School. Indigenous communities gathered on Monday to hear a long-awaited apology for the Catholic Church’s role in forcibly assimilating Native peoples. pic.twitter.com/f3guRow2R6
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The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) reported finding 751 unmarked graves near a former residential school in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan in June 2021. The graves buried children who were allegedly separated from their parents and made to attend the schools by the Canadian government between 1863 and 1996. (RELATED: Fire Blazes Yet Another Canadian Church, Sparking Suspicion Of Possible Anti-Catholic Hate Crime)
FSIN called the graves a “crime against humanity, an assault on First Nations.”
The pope wore a Native American headdress following his speech, drawing applause and cheers from the audience, The Washington Post reported.
Francis’s remarks today are the first of many in what the pope called a “penitential pilgrimage” a year after the allegations of abuse at residential schools run by the Catholic Church surfaced.