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Indigenous people tell the Pope about abuse in a Canadian housing school

Vatican City (AP) — Indigenous leaders of Canada and survivors of the country’s infamous housing school met with Pope Francis on Monday to tell him about the abuse by Catholic priests and school workers. They have wanted to secure the Pope’s apology and the church’s commitment to repair the harm done.

“The timing of acknowledgments, apologies and atonements is quite late, but it’s never too late to do the right thing,” Cassidy Caron, president of the Metis National Council, told reporters at St. Peter’s Square after the audience. rice field.

This week’s meeting, postponed from December due to a pandemic, is part of the Canadian Church and Government’s efforts to respond to indigenous peoples’ demands for justice, reconciliation and reparations. Outside some schools.

Over 150,000 native children in Canada were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools in the 19th and 1970s. The government thought it was excellent.

Francis set aside a few hours this week to meet personally with Metis and Inuit on Monday and the First Nations delegation on Thursday, with a mental health counselor in each session room. The delegation will then meet as a group on Friday, with a formal audience, Francis, giving a speech.

The encounter on Monday included prayers in Metis and Inuit, as well as other symbolically important gestures. The Inuit delegation brought a traditional oil lamp, or qulliq, that lights up when the Inuit gather and stay lit in the Pope’s library throughout the meeting. The Inuit delegation presented Francis with a seal stall and a seal rosary case.

Metis provided Francisco with a pair of red beaded moccasins. “It’s a sign of the willingness of the Metis people to forgive when there is meaningful action from the church,” the group explained. The red dye “represents it even if Pope Francis does not wear it. In traditional red Pope shoes, he is the legacy of the people who came before him, the good, the wonderful, and the terrible. I walk with things. “

The Vatican said in a statement that each meeting lasted about an hour and was “characterized by the Pope’s desire to hear the painful stories brought by the survivors and create space for them.”

The Government of Canada has acknowledged the prevalence of physical and sexual abuse in schools, and students have been beaten by speaking their native language. Its abusive heritage and family isolation have been cited by indigenous leaders as the root cause of alcohol epidemics. Drug addiction to Canadian reservations.

Almost three-quarters of the 130 housing schools were run by a Catholic missionary congregation.

Last May, Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Nation announced the discovery of 215 cemeteries found using ground penetrating radar near Kamloops, British Columbia. This is Canada’s largest indigenous boarding school and the discovery of tombs was numerous first. Similar tough sites across the country.

Caron said on Monday that Francis listened enthusiastically as three of the many survivors of Metis told him a personal story of abuse in a housing school. The Pope showed sadness, but he did not immediately apologize. : Truth, justice, and healing.

“I think it’s a personal commitment,” Caron said, surrounded by Métis fiddlers who took her to the square.

She has to apologize for the harm done, the return of indigenous relics, the commitment to promote the prosecution of abusive priests, and access to the church’s holdings of housing school records. Said that.

Raymond Poisson, a Canadian bishop who heads the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, claims that the Vatican does not have such records, and they may be held by individual religious orders at their headquarters in Canada or Rome. Said that it was high.

Even before the cemetery was discovered, the Truth Commission of Canada specifically called for the Pope’s apology in Canadian soil for the Church’s role in abuse. Francis promised a trip to Canada, but there was no date for such a visit. Announced.

“Mainly, reconciliation requires action, and we still need very concrete action from the Catholic Church,” said Natan Obed of the Inuit Tapirit Kanatami, who led the Inuit delegation. Said the chairman.

He has reparations ordered by the Canadian Church, access to records to understand the extent of unmarked graves, and justice for the victims of Rev. Johannes Rivoir, a Catholic Oblate priest. Cited Francis’ own help in finding multiple cases of sexual abuse currently living in France.

“Inuit often feel helpless over time to correct the mistakes made by us. We are incredibly resilient and tolerant … but we Still seeks lasting respect and rights, for self-determination and recognition of those rights by the institutions that hurt us. “

Canada has paid billions of dollars in remittances to indigenous communities as part of a settlement involving governments, churches, and about 90,000 surviving students.

The Catholic Church has paid more than $ 50 million as part of it and is currently planning to add another $ 30 million over the next five years.

The Métis delegation told Francis that the church-run housing school system and the deportation of children’s homes promoted the ability of Canadian authorities to seize indigenous lands, while at the same time telling the Métis children, “They are themselves. Don’t love me. ” It’s like the people of Metis, “Caron said.

“Our children have come home, who they are, they hate language, they hate culture, they hate traditions. They didn’t have love. But our survivors Are very resilient. They are learning to love. “

The Pope of Argentina is not unaware of apologizing for his own mistakes and what he himself called the “crime” of the institutional church.

During my visit to Bolivia in 2015, I apologized to the indigenous people for the crimes, crimes and crimes committed by the Church during the colonial conquest of the Americas. He was physically abused in Dublin, Ireland in 2018, both sexually and for generations.

That same year, he personally met three Chilean sexual abuse survivors who lost credibility by assisting a bishop accused of concealing abuse. ..

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