Trudeau to ask Pope to apol­o­gize for res­i­den­tial schools in Canada

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - JOANNA SMITH

OT­TAWA — Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau is ex­pected to ask Pope Fran­cis for a for­mal apol­ogy for the role of the Ro­man Catholic Church in the res­i­den­tial school sys­tem when the two meet dur­ing a pri­vate au­di­ence later this month.

The Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion 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 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 over the past few months.

Trudeau is also bring­ing his wife, So­phie Gré­goire Trudeau, to meet Pope Fran­cis when he vis­its the Vatican May 29, but she and all oth- ers 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.

The Vatican stop comes dur­ing a trip to Europe for the NATO lead­ers sum­mit in Brus­sels and the G7 gath­er­ing in Taormina, Italy.

There, the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment is also hop­ing to get a bi­lat­eral meet­ing with U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump — who this week be­gan the count­down to rene­go­ti­ate the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment — in or­der con­tinue press­ing him on the im­por­tance of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two coun­tries.

Trudeau will also visit Ama­trice, Italy, the site of a dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake in Au­gust 2016, and spend time in Rome for an of­fi­cial bi­lat­eral visit in­clud­ing a meet­ing with Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Paolo Gen­tiloni.

For­mer Con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter Stephen Harper, who is­sued a res­i­den­tial schools apol­ogy on be­half of the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment in 2008, did not raise the is­sue di­rectly dur­ing a 10-minute au­di­ence with Pope Fran­cis two years ago, but did men­tion the re­port of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

DAR­RYL DYCK, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau runs un­der a para­chute with chil­dren dur­ing a visit to the Don Chris­tian Recre­ation Cen­tre in Sur­rey, B.C., on Fri­day. Trudeau will meet with the Pope May 29.

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