Call to Action # 58: Actions and Commitments

Pope Francis apology

April 1, 2022

Catholic Church

‘I am sorry’: Pope Francis apologizes for role Catholics played in residential school abuses

APTN – During their last in-person meeting with Pope Francis, First Nations, Inuit and Métis members of the delegation to Vatican City heard the words they were seeking, “I am sorry.”

In the hour-long meeting before the delegation returns home to cities and communities across Canada, Pope Francis, reading from prepared notes, reviewed what he had heard from each of the parties over several days in Rome including the effects of “intergenerational trauma.” “All of this made me feel two things very strongly, indignation and shame,” said the Pope through a translator. “Indignation because It is not right to accept evil and worse, to grow accustomed to evil as it was an inevitable part of the historical process.

“No, without real indignation without historical memory and without a commitment to learning from past mistakes, problems remain unresolved and keep coming back. The memory of the past must never be sacrificed at the alter of alleged progress.”

He continued: “I also feel shame … sorrow and shame for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, and the abuses you suffered and the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”

The Catholic church played a major role in operating the residential school system designed up by the federal government to take children away from their families and sever ties with their culture and language and assimilate them into mainstream society.

While reaction to the Pope’s apology was joyous, the delegates said they realized this was just the beginning.

“Between now and his visit to Canada I hope Pope Francis will continue to reflect upon our words and our truths of our survivors and on the immense harm caused by individuals as well as the church itself so that when he does come to Canada the Pope can apologize once again directly to our survivors and to their families,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council. “And can do so from a place of deep understanding and acknowledgment and then follow those sincere words of apology with sincere acts of atonement which he has committed to.

“That is why today we from the Métis National Council gifted the pope not just our stories but also the gift of tangible action of practical steps the church can take to begin walking alongside the Métis Nation on our journey of truth, justice and healing.”

ITK President Natan Obed added, “We at ITK look forward to working with the Canadian council of bishops, and the Vatican to not only plan for this message, not only to be brought to Canada and to our people in our homelands, but also to see action that will really be the hallmark of this reconciliation journey with the church.”

Each of the leaders say they’ll be working with Canadian bishops on the details of planning the papal visit including which stops Francis will make along the way, and fulfil the requirements from the TRC.

“It’s a historical first step, however, only a first step. More news to be done to address the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action number 58,” said Gerald Antoine, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for the N.W.T.

“The next step is for the holy father to apologize to our family at their home. We seek to hear his words they also seek to hear his words of apology at home.”

For the full text of Pope Francis’ apology click in the following link from CBC

April 15, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis likely to visit Edmonton, Québec City and Iqaluit

Pope Francis is expected to visit at least three cities during a late July trip to Canada, CBC News has learned.

Sources involved in the planning of the trip say the Pope will likely make stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit during what is scheduled to be about a four-day trip to the country. CBC News is not identifying the confidential sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Sources say the trip with the three planned stops — which will be funded by the Canadian Catholic Church, with possible federal dollars — was in discussion before the Vatican meetings.

The delegates who travelled to Rome expect Pope Francis to deliver a fulsome apology on Canadian soil for the church’s role in running residential schools, which would fulfil a key call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron said Vatican advance teams have already scouted Iqaluit, Quebec City and Edmonton in preparation for the trip.

If the Pope goes to Edmonton, Caron said she hopes he will also take the opportunity to visit ​the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage grounds, designated a national historic site of Canada, 78 kilometres to the northwest. “It is a special site,” she said. “A spiritual site, a healing site for Métis people.”

In Rome, Pope Francis said he wanted to attend the annual pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne, which takes place from July 25 to 28 this year.

In a statement to CBC News, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said it is consulting national Indigenous organizations on dates and locations, which have not yet been finalized, and will continue those discussions for the programming of the visit if and when it is confirmed. The Vatican has the ultimate say, and sources said a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks. 

May 13, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis visit to Edmonton, Québec City and Iqaluit confirmed for July 24-30

Globe and Mail: Pope Francis will visit Canada in July in a cross-country tour that will take in Quebec City, Edmonton and Iqaluit, the Vatican confirmed Friday, in a trip intended to address the Catholic Church’s harmful legacy of running the majority of the country’s residential schools.

The visit will take place from July 24 to July 30, a somewhat longer trip than had been expected for the increasingly frail pontiff, who is 85 and was recently spotted in a wheelchair for the first time because of chronic pain in his right knee. The Vatican press office gave no other details of his trip, saying that information on the full program “will be published in the coming weeks.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in a separate release that the visit to specific sites will be planned in dialogue with Indigenous partners, and that Pope Francis is expected to visit the site of a former residential school while he is here.

Some First Nations leaders said they are disappointed the locations don’t appear to include sites where unmarked graves were announced last year, and say there was inadequate consultation with survivors and leaders.

The CCAB release noted the significance of the three stops: Edmonton has the second-largest number of Indigenous peoples in urban areas in Canada; Iqaluit has the highest population of Inuit and the Pope was invited there by Inuit representatives; and Quebec City as the eastern hub has one of the oldest and largest pilgrimage sites in North America.

When asked why the Pope isn’t visiting Kamloops or other locations of unmarked graves, the archbishop cited the Pope’s mobility issues. “What’s really directing this is the Pope’s limited ability to get around,” he said, adding that travel by helicopter, long trips by car and frequent changes of location are too difficult. “What [the Vatican] has said is we’re going to have to choose places as hubs that will allow him to access sites that will be meaningful, but easily accessible within a short space of time.”

He said the Pope will visit a former residential school site, but made no promises that he will visit a site of unmarked graves.

A full itinerary and schedule is expected to be released six to eight weeks before the visit.

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