De gauche à droite, Marc Tourelle, maire de Noisy-le-Roi, SE. M. l'ambassadeur du Liban, Rami Adwan, Marie-Hélène Aubert, maire de Jouy-en-Josas et vie présidente du conseil départemental des Yvelines, Jacques Alexis, maire de Bailly et Bertrand Cognard, conseiller départemental des Yvelines

NNA – In the last stop on a penitential pilgrimage that has drawn mixed reviews from the Indigenous people he came to see, Pope Francis on Friday apologized again to survivors of Canada’s residential schools and said it was his hope to “shed light on what happened and move beyond that dark past.”

The town of Iqaluit, built on permafrost, marked a fitting end for a somber, one-of-a-kind papal trip, geared primarily to atoning for the cruelty of the government-funded schools, most of which were operated by Catholic entities.

“I want to tell you how very sorry I am,” the pope said.

He noted in particular the way in which the system, aimed at forcibly assimilating Indigenous children into Christian culture, pulled children from their parents and grandparents — a practice he called “evil.”

“Families were broken up,” Francis, wearing a white jacket, told several thousand people outside Nakasuk School in Iqaluit.

He delivered his remarks in his native Spanish, translated to English and Inuktitut, in this remote region 200 miles from the Arctic Circle, where residential schools transformed life for the majority-Inuit population. It was the last of his several apologies this week.

Many Indigenous people said they were moved by the long-sought visit — particularly given the 85-year-old’s frailty and immobility. They said his willingness to say “I’m sorry” on Indigenous land was a crucial first step toward healing. But as the week proceeded, he faced criticism from Indigenous leaders, who said were still waiting for him to apologize for the Catholic Church as an institution.

“[The apology] fell short,” RoseAnne Archibald, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said in a television interview this week after the pope’s appearance in Maskwacîs, Alberta. She was one of the Indigenous leaders who greeted Francis when he arrived in the country on Sunday.

Francis apologized personally for the “evil committed by so many Christians” but not for the church as a whole. Nor did he speak about the aspects of the institution that might have allowed it to further a Canadian government policy that the country’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said amounted to a cultural genocide. — WP

 

 

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