Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday he is “deeply disappointed” the Roman Catholic Church has not offered a formal apology and made amends for its role in Canada’s former system of church-run Indigenous boarding schools after the remains of 215 children were located at what was once the country’s largest such institution.
Trudeau called on the church to “step up” and take responsibility after years of silence. “As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the position that the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years,” Trudeau said.
“When I went to the Vatican a number of years ago I directly asked His Holiness, Pope Francis, to move forward on apologizing, on asking for forgiveness, on restitution, on making these records available, and we’re still seeing resistance from the church, possibly from the church in Canada.”
But Trudeau said the church is “silent” and “not stepping up.” “It’s not showing the leadership that quite frankly is supposed to be at the core of our faith, of forgiveness, of responsibility, of acknowledging truth,” Trudeau said.
He said the government has “tools” it can use if the church itself doesn’t release documents. From the 19th century until the 1970s, more than 150,000 First Nations children in Canada were forced to attend state-funded Christian schools as an effort to assimilate them into Canadian society.
The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages.—AP