Pope Francis has apologized to First Nations communities over the Catholic Church’s involvement in Canadian residential schools. Some 150,000 Indigenous children were ripped from their families and forcibly sent to the schools, where they faced psychological, physical and sexual abuse. The schools were open between the late 1800s and 1990s, funded by the Canadian government and run by the Catholic Church. This is Pope Francis speaking today from the Vatican.
Pope Francis: “I also feel shame, I have told you and I will tell you again. I feel shame, shame and sorrow, for the role that several Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have played in all that has hurt you, in the abuses and disrespect toward your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”
Pope Francis’s remarks come after he met with First Nations leaders who’ve long urged the Catholic Church for a formal apology. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has documented at least 4,100 deaths tied to the schools, as mass graves continue to be discovered.