Trudeau Invites Pope To Canada For Apology To Natives

Frederick Owens
May 30, 2017

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday met with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, in a private audience in the Vatican.

Many residential schools were run by Catholic churches, although other religious denominations also had a role.

"I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology", Trudeau told reporters after meeting the pope.

The commission included the demand for a papal apology - to survivors, their families and communities - as one of the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark 120-year history and tragic legacy of residential schools. Families were often coerced by police into sending their children to these schools as part of a policy, intended, "not to educate them, but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity", according to the commission's findings.

Trudeau, who has promised to act on each recommendation, had previously promised to speak to the Pope about an apology, but pointed out he could not compel the pontiff to agree.

"He reminded me his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world and fighting for them and he looked forward to working with me and the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together".

"T$3 he good bilateral relations between the Holy See and Canada were evoked, along with the contribution of the Catholic Church to the social life of the country".

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Trudeau also invited Pope Francis to visit Canada sometime in the near future.

Although it was unclear what was said during their meeting, photos from inside the Vatican's Apostolic Palace appear to show little animosity between the pontiff and Trudeau. The National Chief said he would also like to hear the Pope apologize for the "illegal and racist" papal bulls of the 15th century that gave Christian explorers the right to claim any lands they discovered that were not inhabited by Christians.

Visibly relaxed during the public minutes of the audience, the Pope and Mr. Trudeau exchanged smiles and jokes without mentioning their 36 minutes of private conversation. The pair discussed the importance of protecting the planet, he added.

This was one of the end-2015 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which heard testimony from almost 7,000 alumni over six years.

Trudeau gave the Pope an edition of the six-volume Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle-France, a collection of 17th-century reports from Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada.

A spokesperson said Trudeau had a private drink with former prime minister Matteo Renzi on Monday evening.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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