Pope appeared open to idea of a residential schools apology
Canadians are anxious to reconcile with Indigenous Peoples, Justin Trudeau described telling Pope Francis on Monday as he asked the pontiff to apologize for the role the Catholic Church played in the tragedy of residential schools.
The Pope — himself no stranger to the cause of social justice, he noted to Trudeau — seemed open to the idea, the prime minister said as he related the broad strokes of their private conversation at the Vatican.
“He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world,” Trudeau said after he arrived back in Rome.
Pope Francis also expressed his enthusiasm for working with the prime minister and the Canadian bishops on finding a way forward on the issue of an apology, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The commission included the demand for a papal apology — to survivors, their families and communities — as one of the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark 120-year history and tragic legacy of residential schools.
Trudeau, who has promised to act on each recommendation, had previously committed to speaking to the Pope about an apology, but pointed out he could not compel the pontiff to agree.
On Monday, Trudeau said he invited the Pope to visit Canada in the coming years, and thanked him for the global leadership he has shown on climate change.
“We talked about how important it is to both highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet, with the moral and ethical obligation to lead and to build a better future for all people on this earth,” he said.
Trudeau, a religious Catholic, suggested the meeting gave him some spiritual fulfillment.
“I also had an opportunity to have a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith.”
A readout from the PMO described “an extended conversation” on the need for leadership on issues like climate change and mass migration, and a discussion about stronger relations between Canada and the Holy See.
A statement from the Vatican said that in light of what came out of the G7 summit, their “cordial” discussions also touched on international issues, particularly the Middle East and areas of conflict.
In 2009, former pope Benedict did express “sorrow” on behalf of the Catholic Church for the “deplorable conduct” by some members in their treatment of indigenous children in residential schools.
Not good enough, said the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, especially since it was not made in public, recommending the apology be similar to the one Benedict XVI delivered in Ireland in 2010 to victims of abuse by the church.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau meet with Pope Francis for a private audience at the Vatican on Monday.