side profile of Pope Francis in black and white
The formal apology comes after years of mounting pressure to do so.

Pope Francis has formally apologized to the indigenous peoples of Canada for the atrocities committed upon them by the Catholic Church in the 19th and 20th century. 

Last year, the remains of hundreds of indigenous children were discovered in an unmarked mass grave at the site of a former Catholic school in Canada – a shocking revelation that shook the country and the Catholic world.

It also confirmed unspeakable evils that First Nations advocates long suspected.

Where Did the Kids Go?

From a roughly 120 year period spanning the 1870s to the 1990s, Canada’s residential school system engaged in what Canada itself now recognizes as “cultural genocide” against indigenous children.

Canada sent 150,000 indigenous children to these residential schools – which were largely run by Catholic missionaries – to ‘assimilate’ them into white Canadian culture and ‘Christianize’ them.

The schools were well-known as a place where children simply disappeared. Many went off to school, never to return to their families.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada found that between 4,100 and 6,000 children died of abuse, and untold thousands more suffered sexual trauma, violent beatings, and were underfed and malnourished. 

It’s a shameful part of Canada’s past that is only now getting a major spotlight, and the Catholic Church had no small part in it. After all, nearly three-quarters of these schools were Catholic-run.

A Formal Apology

During a recent audience with dozens of Inuit, Métis and First Nations representatives, Pope Francis issued a papal apology and begged forgiveness.

“For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church, I ask forgiveness of the Lord,” Pope Francis told the representatives. “And I want to tell you from my heart, that I am greatly pained. And I unite myself with the Canadian bishops in apologizing.”

Addressing indigenous representatives directly, Francis stated that he felt great shame for the Church’s role in “the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”

It is believed this is the first time Pope Francis has apologized for the Church’s role in the atrocities. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau personally called on the pontiff to issue an apology all the way back in 2017, but the Catholic Church has largely been hesitant to acknowledge their major role in the residential school system.

With this formal apology, activists say that now the healing can begin. “I sincerely believe that people now have an opportunity to forgive,” said former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Phil Fontaine. “But forgiveness is just as difficult as to apologize.”

However, many argue this should only be the beginning of the Church’s atonement.

Does ‘Sorry’ Cut It?

Not everyone believes that a simple “we’re sorry” is enough. Some indigenous leaders are demanding reparations from the Catholic Church to help make things right.

As part of a 2006 settlement, the Catholic Church agreed to raise $25 million to help make things right. But the Church fell far short of its goal, only managing to raise $3.7 million.

Now, with a formal apology from the Pope on the books, many say it’s time for the Vatican to finally pay up.

Natan Obed, one of the leaders of the Inuit delegation, balked at the previous fundraising efforts. “We are a bit incredulous to think that an entity with so many land holdings, and such vast assets, is unable to identify $25-million for the hundred-plus years of human-rights abuses perpetrated against Indigenous children,” he stated. “It doesn’t compute when you see the Catholic Church’s current footprint and sustainability in this country.”

Some were also upset that the Catholic Church relied on fundraising efforts, instead of simply paying outright. “The Vatican is a state that holds a lot of wealth. [Fundraising] plays a role in reconciliation, but there’s a larger role for the Vatican itself to play,” said Cassidoy Caron, head of the Métis delegation.

A 2019 investigation found that the Catholic Church’s net assets in Canada totalled at least $4.1 billion. Surely, activists argue, they can scrape together $25 million to help make things right.

Are Reparations Right?

However, some disagree with the notion of financial restitution for past sins. Reparations are a controversial topic; calls for official reparations for descendants of slaves in the United States have long gone unanswered. The chances of official slavery reparations from the United States government appear so remote to some churches that they've begun offering their own reparations to African-Americans.

Still, the residential school system in Canada is a bit different. Residential schools were operating as late as the 1990s, and victims of those schools are still alive today. These aren’t centuries-old atrocities… the wounds are pretty fresh. An apology is nice, but many say that should be just the beginning.

What do you think? Now that they’ve officially apologized, is it time for the Catholic Church to pay up?

39 comments

  1. Matthew Mastrogiovanni's Avatar Matthew Mastrogiovanni

    The Catholic church has committed endless atrocities.
    The Inquisition The "Holy" Crusades. The Witch Trials. The KKK. Pedophile priests. The Canadian Atrocities. Misogyny. Anti-LBGTQ campaigns. When do we say enough is enough? When do we declare them a hate group?

    1. John D. Partin's Avatar John D. Partin

      Matthew Mastrogiovanni, not all Catholics took part in the Inquisition or the Crusades or pedophilia or the Canadian Atrocities or misogyny or anti-LGBTQ campaigns, but only a very small percent of them. The Witch Trials were mostly conducted by Protestants and the KKK are anti-Catholic, too, along with being anti-black and anti-Semitic, and so how could the KKK and witch trials be the products of the Catholic Church, against its own people?! A Catholic Saint (Joan of Arc) was burned to death falsely as a "witch" and the Catholic Church isn't going to burn its own people as "witches". That was done by the English against a French girl when England was at war with France. Catholic priests and nuns and laymen were put into concentration camps and executed by the Nazis, too, in case you think that the Catholic Church was "in league with the Nazis". Your condemning the whole Catholic Church as a "hate group" because of what only a very small percent of them have done is no different than what white racist bigots say about black people that "they are all no good" because of a very small percent of them, the same as a small percent of every group is, and generalizing about all other groups by religious, ethnic, and other bigots. Your prejudice against Catholics is making you lump all Catholics together and dismiss them all as a "hate group". Catholics are human beings and make mistakes, sometimes, the same as all other people do. "Let him who is without sin among you cast the first stone" and "First remove the beam from your own eye and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye". When are all other organizations whose members don't all follow their principles going to be dismissed as "hate groups", consistently with your "thinking" about the Catholic Church?! Where is the fairness, logic or reason in your view? No "Catholics" who loved their neighbors as themselves or did unto others as they would have others do unto them, as Catholicism demands that they do, would have done any of the things that you mentioned. So, why are people who didn't follow and aren't following Catholic moral teaching, as cited above, "representative of the Catholic Church"?!!

      1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

        Amen

      2. Charles Jude Platt's Avatar Charles Jude Platt

        Agreed with you. You never hear of the wonderful positive things they do and that is sad.

        At 11 years old, I was sent to summer camp (twice) for 2 years. My family never had to give a penny to the Church. I remember her many generosity.

        Pope's are people, sinners just like the rest of us. This Pope, Francis will be immortalized for his efforts to bring the Catholic faithful back to Christ's teachings. I don't practice the rigidly of the Mass, but try my best, to follow most of her teachings. Sometimes it's very hard to do that, but certainly, still very important to this "Christian" somewhat "heretic."

  1. Tom Thackrey's Avatar Tom Thackrey

    IMHO, too little, way too late. The suffering inflicted on the affected families is monumental. Intense effort needs to be spent to identify the missing and abused, contact them and their families and provide mental health and whatever other services needed to help them cope. No one should ever be treated this way.

  1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

    Still waiting for the apology from the Church and Mexico for them stealing our land and turning us into slaves and actually wiping out whole clans of Native Americans with the help of Spain and Mexicans

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Get over it, Daniel. It was a war that the native Americans lost, a very long time ago, and will never be undone, so quit being a sore loser, accept it, and move on. You know you like this nation better the way it is anyway. Or do you think the Cherokee Nation would have eventually advanced on their own in all the ways that we have since? Would you rather be living in a teepee, without air-conditioning, running water, or even a smartphone? Can you see any advantages to having lost?

      1. Daniel Gray's Avatar Daniel Gray

        Why should I carla? I am doing exactly what the people in the story are whining about or other minorities who seemingly think they deserve something because of what they think happened about a century or more ago. Oh but its ok for them to whine?

        As far as I am concerned, if it didnt happen to you directly, then shut the .... up as it does not effect you. But if they are going to whine about this then I am going to demand the same thing for MY people, the Native Americans and until they shut up about it, then I will continue as well.

        1. William J Lewis's Avatar William J Lewis

          Carl is a Troll, he has no empathy nor understanding about the genocide. In all cases the victor writes the history and eliminates anything untidy from their point of view. There were and still are atrocities played out on the first Nations. All some know is the "history" written by the victor.

        2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

          I see your point, Danielle, and retract my comment.

      2. Leona Weisenbach's Avatar Leona Weisenbach

        That's not the point.... People have the right to their spiritualism and not forced into Christian mental slavery. Freedom of religion means all religions...The nature's religion are far better.

  1. Nicholas J Page's Avatar Nicholas J Page

    It's always the Catholic clergy that partake in this filthy practice And what does the church do.As always turn a blind eye So it goes on for years.Then something happens usually horrendous acts Then the Pope has to apologise.A little too late as always.Then the priests etc get defrocked.Why not lock them up Publish their names and ban them from all church work forever.Until this happens it will carry on around the world.Whats more sickening is that because their in a higher position and looked up to be trusted.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      Let's crucify the Pope, and torch the vatican!!!

  1. William Dusenberry's Avatar William Dusenberry

    The greatest threat to humanity posed by the Roman Catholic Church, in this day andage, is that it continues to consider any couple — using birth control - to be consigned to an eternal fiery Hell.

    Think of this the next time you see a pregnant woman in a refugee camp in the Middle East, or in villages filled with starving expectant moms in Africa.

    1. Raymond Dennis Lams's Avatar Raymond Dennis Lams

      Why worry about what the Church says when you have scripture which expresses the love that God has for us and the salvation freely given to all through the death or Jesus? You cannot blame a "church" for the actions of people, whether they belong to that church or not. If one truly understands the concept of "church" in its theological sense, it is the individual within that group, in its plural sense, that dictate its philosophy.

      The RCC derives its teachings from Holy Scripture and not personal beliefs. In its tradition, the Holy See and its Cardinal and Bishops are representatives of the apostles and, therefore, are the teaching authorities of the Church. Personal conscience, resulting from prayer, spiritual reading, and religious guidance, was also reaffirmed by Vatican II

  1. Aqilah Jackson's Avatar Aqilah Jackson

    While I can appreciate the Pope’s apology, it is too little…why did the Chiefs and representatives have to go to Rome. At the very least the Pope should have gone to the First Nations land in Canada. The last school closed in Canada in 1997, and the count is now 10,026 children with over 100 schools to be searched. In the US, we haven’t even started but there are twice as many schools here as in Canada. The Church will never know the extreme inter generational trauma that their hatred of indigenous people has cause. No an off handed apology is not enough, in fact as rich as the Church is, they don’t have enough to pay for what they did.

  1. Wayne Chattillon's Avatar Wayne Chattillon

    about time

  1. Reverend Kurt's Avatar Reverend Kurt

    The pope could come over to Australia and apologise and pay restitution for the Aboriginal children, who on government law, were stolen from their parents and put into " Christian missions", for education on becoming white. The pedophilia and sale into "servitude" was an integral part of their education. The Catholic church bought many properties and investments from the labour of the aboriginal people under their care. Even today there are still court cases in which the former " servitudes" are seeking the wages owed to them.

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      Same think happened in California with the Spanish missions. For 50 years children in public schools were taught how the Spanish missionaries civilized the Native peoples. It wasn't until 2017 that California altered the curriculum. In America it was and some still believe in "Manifest Destiny". God provided the "White Europeans" North America to rape, pillage, plunder to make as much money as one can. But you have to be white, God doesn't like non-whites.

  1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

    The Pope may have give a formal apology but the rape and molestation of young kids and women still continues to this day right under the Pope's robes. The Pope instead of apologizing should be taking action to protect God's chidden from the sexual torture by priests while the Pope protects them.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      The Pope may have also once been a pedophile priest. And to have climbed the ladder so far above the rest of them, he must be quite a cocksucker!

    2. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      You can say that again, Douglas. An apology is nothing like making amends.

  1. Alexander Arends's Avatar Alexander Arends

    There is a different slant on this story. Don't take anything at face value

    https://www.christianpost.com/news/doubts-cast-on-claim-of-mass-grave-of-indigenous-children-in-canada.html

    1. Douglas Robert Spindler's Avatar Douglas Robert Spindler

      Try looking at who funded the article, it was the church. You are a victims of fake news.

  1. Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson's Avatar Ealdormon Piparskeggr Robinson

    Sorry don't feed the bulldog, as my USMC friends might say.

    Apologies are useful, when backed up.by physical reaction to alleviate those affected.

    1. Carl Bernard Elfstrom's Avatar Carl Bernard Elfstrom

      That's right Ealdormon, and I think the best way the Pope could make amends this late is by getting down on his knees, and submissively giving everyone head. And he must always swallow.

      1. Raymond Dennis Lams's Avatar Raymond Dennis Lams

        I guess that I was mistaken that these comments were to be somewhat educated, not stooping to banal and sexually offensive comments. If one wishes to live in that frame of mind, it is best done in their own. Please spare us!

  1. David Owen Buck's Avatar David Owen Buck

    Keep up. What they discovered are anomalies uncovered by Ground Penetrating Radar, areas of disturbed earth. The determination was that they COULD be bodies, but would require excavation to confirm. So far these excavations have not uncovered anything more than a few human bone fragments in one location. There is no proof whatsoever of these supposedly 'thousands' of bodies. Of note is that the sites are all in farmers fields and orchards, so areas of disturbed soil are hardly surprising. Everybody went into panic mode, apologising. Yes it was wrong to force children from their families. That deserves an apology. At least one chief has said that the years spent at the residential school were the best of their life.

    1. Rev. Robert's Avatar Rev. Robert

      Only a brief look back at history of any Country, Organization, Government, Religion, etc., will require a deep apology…but that is all! We all need to learn from the past, not dwell on who to blame and who is accountable today to make compensatory reconciliation. Acknowledge the atrocities, become wiser and move on to do something good during your very short life. Ask yourself. “What is really important?”.

  1. Denise Ella Jeans's Avatar Denise Ella Jeans

    Of the 130+ residential schools in Canada, only 10 have been searched to date and they have discovered 10,000 dead children. These are not graves, these are crime scenes.

  1. John P Maher's Avatar John P Maher

    NOT TOO MUCH BLAME on POPE FRANCIS, THIS and OTHER ATROCITIES HAVE BEEN COMMITTED for SOME TIME NOE, BEST REMEDY STOP THE SUPPORT the MONEY, NO MONEY NO HONEY, SHAPE UP or PISS OFF !

  1. Stephen Lee Rue's Avatar Stephen Lee Rue

    I believe in forgetting I accept all apologies it just seems like the Christian thing to do so me for one say it’s not to little and never to late

  1. Joanne Marie Le Clair's Avatar Joanne Marie Le Clair

    It defies logic to believe that money or land can make up for the loss of your beautiful, innocent child. It could NEVER “make it up” to me, if that had happened to my child. People, instead, need to work together to stop all atrocities, pull humankind out of their personal darkness into light and compassion, and put an end to this insane behavior once and for all. Amen❣️ Joanne Le Clair

  1. Paul Andrew Barker's Avatar Paul Andrew Barker

    I have time and again said that the catholic church is corrupt the sad part about it I know some catholics who love the Lord Jesus as I do but as long as the church has a strangle hold many stay in fear of perdition and its so sad apologising is not enough money is not enough it's the reason things were done in the first place the church needs to get independent investigations and maybe learn from What other problems the church has been involved . In 1945 my great uncle following the rat line which was organised to get escaping ss and other lapsed catholics who suddenly redoscoverd their faith my uncle Was not allowed to cross a white line in St Peters Square guarded by the papal army so he got very annoyed as the ss catholics got out to South America same church as today it never changes

  1. David Owen Buck's Avatar David Owen Buck

    They have discovered thousands of areas of disturbed earth. That is all Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) can tell you - that the earth has been disturbed and that these disturbances COULD be graves. As the historian investigating these claims who ordered the GPR sweep admitted: It needs archaeological investigation to prove whether or not they are graves. So far excavations have NOT found ANY graves. In an orchard or farmers field disturbed earth is hardly unusual.

  1. Lumina's Avatar Lumina

    I do not believe in this man he is evil, GOD will take care of him believe me. He worships satan. That is his god.

  1. Keith Allen Steele Eash's Avatar Keith Allen Steele Eash

    Enough apologies. Apologies are not required. Anglicanchurches were guilty as hell also.

  1. Catherine Ann McDonald's Avatar Catherine Ann McDonald

    When will the devout Catholic school, church upbringing, the nuns were mean and evil and the priests sexually manipulating. How can this disgust continue in our world today as there is so much proof of their abuses. The stories of my friends who have survived the residential schools, so much innocence and youth stripped of these children, disgusting.

  1. David Bartlett's Avatar David Bartlett

    My Sephardic Jewish ancestors in Spain were forced to "assimilate" centuries ago by converting to Roman Catholicism. The alternative was death to their entire families including children. Often they weren't even given the choice. They were simply commanded by the inquisitors to cease to exist and then they had them hunted down. What happened to the indigenous people in Canada was horrible. But neither was it the first nor the worst case of this perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church.

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