Pope Francis Apologizes in the Name of the Catholic Church

“Kill the Indian, Save the man” was the demeaning and dehumanizing philosophy that led to the creation of boarding schools for Native Americans in Canada and the United States. Some of these schools were administered by the Catholic Church.
This past week, Pope Francis traveled to Canada to apologize to the First Nation Peoples of Canada for the abuses the children suffered in these schools. These were abuses of many kind: sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological.
There also existed a systemic program to destroy their culture and spiritual traditions. Children were not even permitted to speak their native languages or express any cultural traditions of their people.
The colonial mentality, with its destructive programs, was the cause of much suffering in the Americas and all over the world. Indigenous people everywhere on the globe have suffered greatly at the hands of those who robbed their lands from them. To know that the institution of the Catholic Church together with other Christian churches were instrumental in such atrocities is reason for shame and it calls for much more than apologies. Governments also have the responsibility to humble themselves and publicly apologize the same way that our Pope has done.
Perhaps what should be the most important consequence of the Pope’s humility and public apology is to make sure that the institutional church abolishes every trace of the Doctrine of Discovery which has influenced churches and governments throughout the world. The apology must now take on flesh by making sure that the Church never again becomes complicit in the destruction of peoples and cultures. Never again! And, we, who are the Church, must always hold our leaders and ourselves accountable.
You are in my prayers and in my heart.
Peace. Friar Julio

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