Pope Francis has apologized for the “evil” done to Canada’s indigenous people on the first day of a visit focused on addressing decades of abuse committed in Catholic institutions.
The Supreme Pontiff’s repentance of 1.3 billion Catholics was greeted with applause by a crowd of First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples gathered at Maskwacis, in the western province of Alberta, where indigenous children were taken from their families and subjected to what is considered a “cultural genocide”.
“I apologize for the way in which many members of the Church and religious communities cooperated, also through indifference, in those projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation”, said the 85-year-old pope who read his message sitting down.
“The policies of assimilation and disengagement, which also included the residential school system, were disastrous for the people of these lands,” he acknowledged.
The Pope will celebrate a mass today at the Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton where some 65,000 people are expected. On Wednesday he will visit Québec City before the last stage of the trip, on Friday in Iqaluit (Nunavut), a city in northern Canada in the Arctic archipelago.
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