Pope Francis’ visit to Canada to apologize for the horrors at boarding schools for indigenous peoples run by the Catholic Church represents a radical rethinking of the Catholic Church’s missionary legacy, first promoted by the American Pope and Hundreds of possible graves were discovered. on the school grounds.
Francis has pointed out that the yatra, which will last a week and begin on Sunday, is a pilgrimage of penance by Catholic missionaries to Canadian soil to seek forgiveness for the evil done to the native people. It comes as the Vatican apologized last April for generations suffered by indigenous communities as a result of a church-imposed policy to destroy their culture and incorporate them into Canadian Christian society.
Francis’s tone of personal remorse marked a major shift in the papacy, which has long recognized the abuses committed in boarding schools and strongly defends the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples. But his predecessors also praised the sacrifice and piety of the European Catholic missionaries who brought Christianity to America, something Francis has done in the past but is not expected to emphasize during this visit.
Cardinal Michael Zerny, a Canadian Jesuit who is one of the top papal advisers at the Vatican, recalled that early in his term, Francis had said that no culture could claim control over Christianity and the Church on other continents. population cannot be demanded. Imitate the way Europeans express their faith.
Had this conviction been accepted by all concerned in the centuries following America’s ‘discovery’, much suffering would have been avoided, great progress would have been made, and America would have been better overall, he said in an email to the Associated Press. written in
The journey won’t be easy for the 85-year-old Francisco, nor for those who have survived boarding schools and their families. Pope is unable to walk without support and will use a wheelchair and cane because of the strain of painful ligaments in one knee. Trauma specialists will be present at all events to provide psychological support to school survivors in the event of potential conflict situations.
It is an understatement to say there are mixed feelings, said Chief Desmond Bull of the Louis Bull tribe, one of the First Nations that is part of the Maskawasis region, where the pontiff will make his first apology on Monday near the site. of a prior internship.
The Canadian government acknowledged that physical and sexual abuse was widespread in open state-funded Christian schools from the 19th century to the 1970s. About 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families and forced to attend these schools. Separating them from the influence of their native homes, languages and cultures.
Indigenous leaders cited a legacy of such abuse and family separation as one of the main reasons for the epidemic rate of alcohol and drug addiction on Canada’s reservations.
For the survivors, from coast to coast, this is an opportunity – the first and perhaps the last – to make amends for themselves and their families, said George Arcand Jr., Grand Chief of the Treaty Six Confederacy in Muskowice.
It will be a difficult but necessary process, he said.
Unlike most papal visits, the diplomatic protocol of a traditional state visit will take a backseat to personal encounters with First Nations, Métis and Inuit survivors. Francis will not formally meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau until halfway through his stay in Quebec City.
The visit would also end in an unusual way: Pope Iqaluit would visit Nunavut, the farthest he has ever been north, to offer his apology to the Inuit community before flying back to Rome.