Canadian bishops have invited Pope Francis to visit as part of a process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. According to a statement issued by the Press Service of the Holy See, quoted by Kerknit, the church leader announced his readiness to visit their country at a date that has not yet been determined.
The bishops called on the pope as part of a long-running process of reconciliation with Aboriginal people, whose children were taken from their parents for decades at the behest of the Canadian government to “spur the culture”. Many of them ended up in Catholic Church boarding schools, where many children died of suffering.
Pope Francis has expressed his dismay at the dramatic discovery of the bodies of 200 Aboriginal children at a boarding school in Kamloops on June 6, 2021. Canadian bishops have now issued a canonical error. They also promised C$30 million in compensation over the next five years to families of the victims and to projects that benefit Aboriginal people. Even then, the wish had been expressed for the Pope to visit the country to personally express his regret, as he had done before with the indigenous peoples of Latin and North America and during various meetings in Europe and the United States with victims of sexual abuse.
According to historians, an estimated 4,000 of the approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children placed in boarding schools died from the late 19th century to the late 1960s. Indigenous children were separated from their parents all the time in order to accommodate them. The last of those institutions closed in 1978. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission published a report commissioned by the Canadian government documenting neglect and abuse. He also noted the involvement of Canadian ecclesiastical structures, not only of the Catholic Church but also of the Anglican Church.
Since the beginning of this year, 900 remains have been found in mass graves in various locations of suspected Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and who became victims of abuse and neglect, according to Kerknit.
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