One on one
Trudeau to ask Pope to apologize for residential schools in Canada
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to ask Pope Francis for a formal apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system when the two meet during a private audience later this month.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) included the demand for a papal apology -– to survivors, their families and communities – among the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark history and legacy of residential schools.
Trudeau, who has promised to act on all 94 recommendations, has previously promised to speak to the Pope about an apology, but noted he could not compel him to agree.
“It is a conversation that is going to have to happen between the two gentlemen,” said a federal government official, who spoke to reporters at a technical briefing on the condition that sources not be named.
“Obviously, the Vatican is well aware of the TRC request and they know that’s something that we will be raising, but in terms of advancing that conversation, I think it’s going to have to happen in the room,” the official said.
Canadian bishops have also raised the issue during visits to the Vatican during the last few months. Trudeau is also bringing his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican May 29, but she and all others will remain outside the room when the prime minister and the religious leader hold their private conversation.
The visit will also involve a tour of the Vatican museum and the famed Sistine Chapel, where the ceiling was painted by Renaissance artist Michelangelo.