A federal NDP motion calling on Pope Francis to formally apologize for the responsibility the Catholic Church played in the residential school legacy has passed in the House of Commons 269 to 10 Tuesday. The 10 nay votes came from the Conservative caucus.
The motion by MP Charlie Angus comes after the Pope spoke through the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops last month saying he would not apologize. That decision was met with condemnation, as Prime Minister Trudeau expressed his disappointment.
The NDP are hoping the Pontiff changes his mind, inviting him to Canada to apologize.
“It would be an honour to have the Pope come and visit us here in Canada to offer us an apology to all the survivors,” MP Georgina Jolibois said.
In 2009 Pope Benedict XVI offered an expression of “sorrow” to Indigenous leaders, but survivors say that did not go far enough.
Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett told the House of Commons Tuesday that the Liberal government was committed to implementing the 94 Calls to Action contained in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report that includes call 58 which reads.
“We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.”
“I have written to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to request a meeting to move this important step forward and hope they directly meet with survivors,” Bennett said.
The Catholic Church was responsible for operating approximately two-thirds of residential schools. Three other churches — the United Church, Presbyterian Church and Anglican Church — apologized in the 1990’s for their responsibility.
Jolibois says it was disheartening to hear the Pope refuse to apologize.
“I was really disappointed with the answer that we received a couple of weeks ago for the Pope not to personally apologize. I was frustrated with the answer,” Jolibois explained.
Jolibois wants Trudeau to request another face-to-face meeting with the Pope, to apply pressure for an apology.
(PHOTO: Pope Francis. Photo courtesy of cccb.ca)