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Canada

Pope addresses 'sorrows' of residential schools, does not apologize in public prayer

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis said today he was “following with pain” the news of an unmarked burial site at a former British Columbia residential school believed to contain the remains of 215 Indigenous children.

During his regular Sunday public prayer delivered to a gathering in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said the “shocking” discovery is a call for Canadian religious and political authorities to keep working toward reconciliation.

He did not mention Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s calls for him to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in Canadian residential schools, nor did he offer an apology.

Trudeau made the remarks on Friday, calling on Catholic officials to “step up” and take responsibility for the Church’s role in the residential school system and urging the release of the schools’ records.

The Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced 10 days ago that ground-penetrating radar confirmed the findings at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

The Vatican’s roster of papal audiences indicated the Pope met with two Canadian Cardinals on Saturday, but did not say why the meetings took place or what was discussed. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 6, 2021.

The Canadian Press