Shomporko Online News Desk: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his displeasure with the Catholic Church for failing to acknowledge and apologize for its participation in the country’s residential schools on Friday.
During the prime minister’s weekly vaccine press conference, he expressed his disappointment with the Catholic Church’s position “now and for many years.”
He stated, “We’re still seeing resistance from the Church, possibly from the Church in Canada.”
“I think it’s going to be a really important moment to make it clear that we expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records, as necessary.”
“It’s something we are all still waiting for the Catholic Church to do,” he added.
Between 1831 and 1996, over 150,000 children were forcibly removed from their homes by Canada’s residential school system. In what the Truth and Reconciliation Commission labeled “cultural genocide” in 2015, many people were subjected to abuse, rape, and hunger.
The claimed goal of the schools, which were run by the government and church groups, the majority of which were Catholic, was to assimilate indigenous students.
In 2017, Trudeau claimed he urged Pope Francis to consider making an apology for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools. In 2018, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the Pope could not apologize personally for the schools.
The prime minister also recognized the need for stronger measures if the Catholic Church does not show the leadership that “quite frankly is supposed to be at the core of our faith — of forgiveness and responsibility, acknowledging truth.”
“Many Catholics like myself over the course of the past many days, [are] wondering why the a Catholic Church in Canada is silent, is not stepping up, is not showing leadership.”
He said the government has tools available to compel the church to disclose documents, but he indicated he does not want to resort to taking the institution to court.
The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced last week that ground-penetrating radar had located what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.
The news has sparked national outrage and grief, and has led to mounting calls for the federal government and church to investigate more potential school burial sites.
Trudeau said it’s going to be important for Catholics across the country to reach out to bishops and cardinals on this issue.