Pope Francis on April 1 offered a long sought-after apology to Canada’s Indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s involvement in the country’s abuse-ridden residential schools and vowed to visit Canada soon.
“For the deplorable conduct of members of the Catholic Church, I ask God’s forgiveness,” said Francis, who described the institutional abuses by church leaders as “contrary to the Gospel of Jesus.”
With those words, Francis fulfilled a request for a papal apology that comes after years of appeals from Canada’s Indigenous community and even Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the Catholic Church to seek forgiveness for its century-long involvement in the country’s scandal plagued school system for Native children.
The April 1 encounter was the fourth occasion that Francis met with representatives of Canada’s Indigenous community visiting Rome this week. From March 28 – April 1, the pope had previously held separate meetings with delegates from the First Nations, Métis National Council and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
“Through your voices I have been able to touch with my own hands and carry within me, with great sadness in my heart, the stories of suffering, deprivation, discriminatory treatment and various forms of abuse suffered by several of you,” the pope said on Friday.