Shame and indignation: the Pope’s request for forgiveness to the indigenous people of Canada

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I feel shame and pain for the role that many Catholics, especially with educational responsibilities, played in everything that hurt them; in the abuse and lack of respect for their identity, culture and even spiritual values. is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus”, said the Pope, ending a week of meetings with indigenous delegations from Canada.

Bianca Fraccalvieri – Vatican News

Shame, pain and indignation: these were the feelings expressed by Pope Francis when he received this morning, in the Vatican, delegations of indigenous Canadians.

During this week, the Pontiff held meetings with three groups – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – who suffered the consequences of colonization, whose last public episode was the discovery of mass graves on the grounds of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.

Between the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Canadian government instituted residential schools for indigenous children to assimilate into the culture of the settlers. The schools were entrusted to the local Christian Churches, including the Catholic Church. In these schools, students suffered abuse and mistreatment.

Ideological colonization: deplorable yesterday and today

In his speech, Francis said that he listened carefully to the testimonies, “imagining the stories and the situations”, and thanked them for having opened their hearts, in the desire to walk together.

From what he heard, the Pope highlighted some aspects, such as the wisdom of the native peoples summarized in this sentence: “It is necessary to think seven generations ahead when making a decision”.

“It is the opposite of what happens today”, the Pope commented, because the future of the next generations is not considered. On the contrary, the link between the elderly and the young is indispensable, it must be cultivated and protected. This same wisdom is also manifested in the care of Creation, valued as “a gift from heaven”.

But the union with the territory suffered a severe blow, inflicted by colonization, Francis said. Without respect, many indigenous people were torn from their vital environment and uniformed to another mentality.

“Thus their identity and culture were injured, many families separated and many young people became victims of this act of homologation, supported by the ideal that progress occurs through ideological colonization.”

It is something, the Pope once again denounced, that still happens today.

Shame, pain and outrage

At this point, Francis spoke the most touching words of his speech, recalling the suffering and sadness caused by the traumas suffered:

“All this aroused in me two feelings: indignation and shame.”

Indignation because it is unfair to accept evil and it is even worse to get used to it. Without indignation, memory and commitment to learn from mistakes, problems are not solved, as the war we see these days proves.

“And I also feel ashamed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I feel shame and pain for the role that many Catholics, especially those with educational responsibility, played in everything that hurt them; in abuse and lack of respect for their identity, culture and even spiritual values. All this is contrary to the Gospel of Jesus.”

For the deplorable behavior of those members of the Catholic Church, the Pope asked God for forgiveness and “I would like to say to them with all my heart: I am very saddened”.

Francis closed the audience by wishing that the meetings of these days can open paths to travel together, encouraging bishops and local Catholics to take steps in the transparent search for the truth, promoting the healing of wounds. “The Church is with you and wants to continue to walk with you”, assured the Pontiff, renewing his desire to visit Canada, but “not in winter”, he joked.

After attending performances of songs of indigenous culture, in English, the Pope said that he prays for the indigenous people and asked them to do the same for him.

About Abhishek Pratap

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