Pope Francis has apologized to representatives of Canada’s indigenous peoples for the mistreatment suffered by students at a church-run boarding school in Canada, according to local media.
“I ask forgiveness from God for the despicable behavior of some members of this Church,” Pope Francis told the audience and the Indigenous and Canadian bishops, Italian news agency ANSA recently reported.
“I am deeply saddened, I join the bishops of Canada in apologizing to you,” the pope is reported to have said.
The pope also announced that he would be visiting Canada in the near future.
“See you in Canada where I can better express my closeness to you.
A meeting of three indigenous groups – the Assembly of First Nations, Métis and Inuit – and the Pope was scheduled for December 2021 but was canceled due to the emergence of an omicron variant.
The groups share the same goal of securing a papal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in running the notorious residential schools from the 1820s to the 1990s, when the last 139 schools were closed.
Around 150,000 students live in the school, sometimes forcibly removed from their families to erase indigenous culture.
Around 4,500 students were killed while several others suffered physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Over the past year, more than 1,800 unmarked graves have been identified at various residential school sites across Canada.
About 60% of these schools are run by the Catholic Church and the rest by other Christian churches.
Apologies have been issued by various individuals and groups representing the Catholic Church, but Francis’ statement today is the first from a pope.
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