Pope voices sorrow over Canadian deaths, doesn't apologize


The UN urged the Vatican to investigate the remains of 215 children found at a 'mass grave' at a former Catholic school

Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sorrow over the discovery in Canada of the remains of 215 Indigenous students of church-run boarding schools but didn't offer the apology sought by the Canadian prime minister.

Remains of 215 children were found at Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia last month.

Residential schools in Canada were funded by the Canadian government's Department of Indian Affairs and administered by Christian churches, including the Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian and United churches. The school was Canada's largest such facility and was operated by the Catholic church between 1890 and 1969.

Some 150,000 Indian, Inuit and Metis youngsters in total were enrolled in 139 of these residential schools, where students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.

Trudeau says as a Catholic he is deeply disappointed by the position that the church has taken now and over the past couple years.

"This sad discovery adds to the awareness of the sorrows and sufferings of the past", he added.

Trudeau urged Canadian Catholics to "reach out (to their) local parishes, to bishops and cardinals, and 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".

The Prime Minister noted that he had "directly asked" Pope Francis to make the records available during a previous visit to the Vatican but that there was still "resistance".

Trudeau has not directed such pointed comments at the Catholic Church over the residential schools since taking office in 2015.

"These hard moments represent a strong appeal for all of us to move away from the colonizing model and also from today's ideological colonizations", he said, "and walk side by side in dialogue, in mutual respect and in the recognition of the rights and cultural values of all the sons and daughters of Canada".

"These hard moments represent a strong call to distance ourselves from the colonial model and from today's ideological colonizing and to walk side by side in dialogue, in mutual respect and in recognizing rights and cultural values of all the daughters and sons of Canada", the pope said.

Among the many recommendations of a government-established Truth and Reconciliation Commission was a papal apology.

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