Breaking News
Get Actionable Insights with InvestingPro+: Start 7 Day FREE Trial Register here
Investing Pro 0
Ad-Free Version. Upgrade your experience. Save up to 40% More details

Pope: Church must take institutional blame for harm done to indigenous Canadians

World Jul 27, 2022 01:49PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis receives a headdress from indigenous people during his visit to Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada July 25, 2022. REUTERS/Todd Korol 2/2

By Philip Pullella and Tim Johnson

LAC STE. ANNE, Alberta (Reuters) -Pope Francis on Tuesday said the Roman Catholic Church should accept institutional blame for the harm done to indigenous Canadians in residential schools that tried to wipe out native cultures.

Francis made his comment during a visit to Lac Ste. Anne, a lakeside pilgrimage site about 70 km (44 miles) west of Edmonton popular with both indigenous Canadian Catholics and those of European origin.

After arriving to the sounds of native drumbeats and chanting, the pope, seated in a wheelchair, blessed the lake then spoke of "the wound of the violence suffered by our indigenous brothers and sisters" and "the terrible effects of colonization."

Francis is on a week-long tour of Canada to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church's role in running residential schools that tore indigenous children away from their families and became places where abuse was rampant.

"All of us, as Church, now need healing; healing from the temptation of closing in on ourselves, of defending the institution rather than seeking the truth, of preferring worldly power to serving the Gospel," he said in a covered outdoor space after greeting the crowd in three indigenous languages.

Cindy Bearhead, 58, a school survivor from the Stoney Nakoda First Nation, was among a crowd of several hundred people at Lac Ste. Anne.

"For him to come here and bless the lake and bless the people, I think that's really historic, and for the Vatican to actually acknowledge indigenous people and our spiritual place in Canada," she said.

More than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and brought to residential schools over more than a century. Many were starved, beaten for speaking their native languages and sexually abused in a system that Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission called "cultural genocide."

The pope spoke a day after visiting the town of Maskwacis, Alberta, site of two former schools. He issued a historic apology that called the Church's role in schools and their forced cultural assimilation a "deplorable evil" and "disastrous error". [L1N2Z61KG]

He also called for a "serious" investigation into the schools.

On Tuesday morning, at a Mass for about 50,000 people at a stadium in Edmonton, Francis praised the indigenous tradition of showing great respect to elders and learning from them, saying their legacy must not be lost in modern society's "fog of forgetfulness."

His words were particularly poignant for indigenous communities because the residential schools, which ran from 1870 to 1996, destroyed links between generations so precious to indigenous cultures.

In his homily, he hoped for "a future in which the history of violence and marginalization suffered by our indigenous brothers and sisters is never repeated."


Francis entered the Edmonton stadium standing in a popemobile, which stopped frequently as it toured the pitch so babies and children could be brought to him to kiss or bless.

Before the pope arrived, Phil Fontaine, a former Assembly of First Nations national chief and a residential school survivor, reflected on Francis' visit on Monday to Maskwacis.

"I want to say to you, my friends, that what we really are talking about is forgiveness. We will never reach reconciliation without forgiveness," Fontaine said.

"We will never forget but we must forgive. We invite the Catholic Church to rebuild the fractured relationship it had with us, for us and for all Canadians."

Fontaine was among the indigenous leaders who met the pope at the Vatican earlier this year and invited him to Canada.

Indigenous leaders as well as survivors of the schools said that while the pope's apology on Monday evoked strong emotions and was a highly significant step towards reconciliation, the Church and the government needed to take more action.

"You can't just say, 'I am sorry,' and walk away. There has to be effort, and there has to be work in more meaningful actions behind words," said Nakota Sioux Nation Chief Tony Alexis.

On Wednesday, the pope will travel to Quebec City for the more institutional part of his visit, meeting with government officials and diplomats.

On his way back to Rome on Friday, he will stop for a few hours in Iqaluit in the Canadian Arctic, where indigenous affairs will return to the fore.

The Iqaluit area is one of the fastest-warming parts of North America and there the pope is expected to address the dangers of climate change.

Pope: Church must take institutional blame for harm done to indigenous Canadians

Related Articles

Biden tours flood damage in eastern Kentucky
Biden tours flood damage in eastern Kentucky By Reuters - Aug 08, 2022

By Nandita Bose LEXINGTON, Ky (Reuters) - U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday surveyed the damaged houses, uprooted trees and mud-filled roads left by severe flooding in eastern...

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with other users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind:  

  •            Enrich the conversation, don’t trash it.

  •           Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed. 

  •           Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically. Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user. Racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination will not be tolerated.

  • Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases. Comments that are written in all caps and contain excessive use of symbols will be removed.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and comments containing links will be removed. Phone numbers, email addresses, links to personal or business websites, Skype/Telegram/WhatsApp etc. addresses (including links to groups) will also be removed; self-promotional material or business-related solicitations or PR (ie, contact me for signals/advice etc.), and/or any other comment that contains personal contact specifcs or advertising will be removed as well. In addition, any of the above-mentioned violations may result in suspension of your account.
  • Doxxing. We do not allow any sharing of private or personal contact or other information about any individual or organization. This will result in immediate suspension of the commentor and his or her account.
  • Don’t monopolize the conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also strongly believe in giving everyone a chance to air their point of view. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at’s discretion.

Write your thoughts here
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Post also to:
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Comments (2)
Brad Albright
Brad Albright Jul 26, 2022 8:27AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
Acts of supreme decency and humanity. A welcome counter to the cynicism and brutality of today's agents of chaos and division.
Dennis Chuck
Dennis Chuck Jul 26, 2022 7:41AM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This comment has already been saved in your Saved Items
F ake and full of shet
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Confirm Block

Are you sure you want to block %USER_NAME%?

By doing so, you and %USER_NAME% will not be able to see any of each other's's posts.

%USER_NAME% was successfully added to your Block List

Since you’ve just unblocked this person, you must wait 48 hours before renewing the block.

Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email