Manitoba

Pope should visit Canada but not to apologize for residential schools: Archbishop

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls on the Pope to apologize for residential schools but the Archbishop of Winnipeg says the Pope already 'expressed sorrow' to Indigenous leaders in 2009.

Archbishop of Winnipeg says Pope should focus on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples

CROSS LAKE, Canada - Female students and a nun at Cross Lake Indian Residential School in Cross Lake, Manitoba. (Library and Archives Canada/Reuters)
The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Winnipeg agrees the Pope must rebuild relations with Indigenous peoples still reeling from the effects of residential schools, but Archbishop Richard Gagnon says he isn't sure an apology is the right way.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released 94 recommendations yesterday, including one that calls on the Pope to visit Canada and apologize to survivors of the residential school system.

"We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada," reads the recommendation.

Archbishop Richard Gagnon said the Pope must rebuild relations with Indigenous peoples who are still reeling from the effects of residential schools, but he wasn't sure an apology was the right way. (Archdiocese of Winnipeg )
However, Archbishop Gagnon says Pope Benedict XVI already personally 'expressed sorrow' to a delegation of Indigenous peoples in Rome in 2009.

"I think that the Pope should come to Canada but not simply from that standpoint of an apology because that ground has been covered already," Archbishop Gagnon told CBC Up To Speed.

Gagnon says any future pastoral trip should be similar to one that occurred in 1987, when Pope John Paul II visited Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories and took time to visit with and listen to Indigenous peoples. 

"When [Pope John Paul II] came to Fort Simpson, he made some very interesting statements regarding the First Nations people in Canada about their customs, their traditions, their spirituality, their right to self-government," the Archbishop says.

The last residential school closed in Manitoba in 1990. Of the 19 schools in this province, 8 were operated by the Roman Catholic Church.

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