Bishop hopes Pope will is­sue res­i­den­tial schools apol­ogy in fu­ture

Regina Leader-Post - - CITY+REGION - DAVE DEIBERT

The Bishop of the Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese of Saska­toon says he re­mains “hope­ful” that Pope Fran­cis will one day travel to Canada to apol­o­gize to res­i­den­tial school sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies for the role of the Ro­man Catholic Church in op­er­at­ing res­i­den­tial schools and for the abuse suf­fered by the schools’ stu­dents.

A pa­pal apol­ogy was No. 58 of the 94 rec­om­men­da­tions from the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion.

The com­mis­sion rec­om­mended an apol­ogy sim­i­lar to that of­fered by the Pope to Ir­ish vic­tims of sex­ual abuse in 2010. In 2015, Pope Fran­cis is­sued an apol­ogy in Bo­livia to In­dige­nous peo­ples in the Amer­i­cas for the “grave sins” of colo­nial­ism.

In­stead, Bishop Lionel Gen­dron, pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops, on Tues­day re­leased a let­ter to the In­dige­nous Peo­ples of Canada say­ing Pope Fran­cis has not shied away from ac­knowl­edg­ing in­jus­tices faced by In­dige­nous peo­ples around the world, but that he can’t per­son­ally is­sue an apol­ogy for res­i­den­tial schools.

“I rec­og­nize that the re­cent let­ter to the In­dige­nous Peo­ples (of ) Canada from the pres­i­dent of the Cana­dian Con­fer­ence of Catholic Bish­ops (CCCB) is a dis­ap­point­ment to many peo­ple in our com­mu­nity,” Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese of Saska­toon Bishop Mark Hage­moen wrote in a state­ment. “I too re­gret that Pope Fran­cis is not com­ing at this time. I think we re­main hope­ful that the ful­fill­ment of Call to Ac­tion num­ber 58 may still hap­pen some­time in the fu­ture.”

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau, who is Catholic, said he was dis­ap­pointed by the Pope’s de­ci­sion, stress­ing that rec­on­cil­i­a­tion ex­tends be­yond the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the govern­ment and In­dige­nous peo­ple. Dur­ing a visit to the Vat­i­can last year, Trudeau per­son­ally asked the Pope to con­sider such a ges­ture.

Con­ser­va­tive Leader An­drew Scheer, also a Catholic, said all in­sti­tu­tions that played a sig­nif­i­cant role in the res­i­den­tial school sys­tem should apol­o­gize in or­der to move Canada for­ward on the path of rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.

As­sem­bly of First Na­tions Na­tional Chief Perry Bel­le­garde said in a state­ment that he has writ­ten to Pope Fran­cis urg­ing him to come to Canada and meet In­dige­nous peo­ples. He is also seek­ing a di­rect meet­ing with the Pope to dis­cuss the is­sue fur­ther.

“Hear­ing an apol­ogy di­rectly from Pope Fran­cis would be an im­por­tant act of heal­ing and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, much like his apol­ogy de­liv­ered to the In­dige­nous peo­ples of the Amer­i­cas in 2015,” Bel­le­garde said.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing “those who are dis­ap­pointed” that the Pope will not travel to Canada and apol­o­gize, Hage­moen said the Saska­toon church “con­tin­ues to strive to lis­ten, to build bridges to­gether, and to un­der­take aware­ness and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion through a range of ini­tia­tives and en­coun­ters. Th­ese in­clude ed­u­ca­tion, treaty aware­ness, ini­tia­tives re­gard­ing jus­tice and heal­ing, pray­ing and cel­e­brat­ing to­gether.”

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