Status: 07/30/2022 11:11 am
Pope Francis sees the treatment of Canada’s indigenous peoples in church boarding schools as genocide. At the end of his trip, he apologized to the indigenous people for the violence and abuse suffered by the children there.
Pope Francis has called on young Aboriginal people in northern Canada to protect their heritage and their land. An 85-year-old Argentinian in the coastal town of Iqaluit said the children are the future. The head of the Catholic Church was welcomed by Inuit representatives with traditional throat singing in the capital of the Northern Territory of Nunavut.
According to Pope Francis, it is not enough to live off what others have already created. The head of the Catholic Church also explained that one must win what one has received as a gift. The world in which the people lived in these regions was their wealth.
“Outrage and Shame”
The reason for the Pope’s visit to Canada is to apologize to the indigenous people of Canada. In Iqaluit, a few hundred kilometers south of the Arctic Circle, he addressed primarily the Inuit. For decades, tens of thousands of indigenous children have suffered violence and abuse in boarding schools run by the Catholic Church.
“Even today, even here, I am very sad and want to apologize,” Francis said. He wanted to apologize for the evil done by “some Catholics” who contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and disenfranchisement in these schools.
More than 4000 children died
Pope Francis has met with former residents and expressed “outrage and shame” at the way Aboriginal children were treated in the past. He visited the “great suffering” of children who were taken to Catholic boarding schools to “kill the native in the child’s heart”.
Between the late 1800s and the 1990s, the Canadian government sent about 150,000 Aboriginal children to boarding schools, most of which were run by the Catholic Church. They were cut off from their families, their language and their culture. Many of them were physically and sexually abused.
Officially more than 4000 children died, estimates suggest it could be as high as 6000.
The Pope talks about genocide
A national commission of inquiry spoke of “cultural genocide”. The discovery of 1,300 anonymous graves last year sparked a shock wave.
Pope Francis has made similar comments, saying the treatment of indigenous peoples is a form of genocide. “It’s true. It’s genocide,” he said on the plane back to Rome from Canada.
The pope described his trip, which began Sunday, as a “pilgrimage of penance.” His apology was long overdue. In Canada, Francis spoke of “cultural destruction”, “physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse”.
After a visit to Iqaluit that lasted about four hours, Francis left for Rome.
The Pope is planning short trips in the future
On the flight back to Rome, Pope Francis announced that he intends to shorten the trip in the future. He could not continue with the same travel rhythm as before, he said. To continue serving the church, he had to take it easy.
A six-day trip to Canada was a little experiment in realizing that you really can’t travel in such conditions. He should “conserve some of his strength” or “otherwise consider the possibility of stepping aside”.
Francis has had a serious knee problem since the beginning of the year. Since May, he has often been in a wheelchair during public events. He relied on it even during the current journey.
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