Trudeau blasts Church for ignoring role in indigenous schools

Memorial

Memorial

"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.

Some 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly sent to government-funded, church-operated schools for over more than 150 years. The Canadian government has admitted that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in the schools, with students beaten for speaking their native languages.

Germany's Catholic Church counted 22.6 million members in 2019 and it is still the largest religion in the country, but the number is two million fewer than in 2010 when the first major wave of paedophile abuse cases came to light.

The Vatican spokesman did not respond to requests for comment this week about demands for a formal apology from the pope.

Archbishop Richard Gagnon, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement Monday the news of the recent discovery is "shocking".

The archbishop of Vancouver, however, apologised on Wednesday.

The discovery this week of the remains of the children at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia, which closed in 1978, has reopened old wounds and is fueling outrage about a persistent lack of information and accountability.

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The prime minister said the government has tools available to compel the church to provide these documents, but he indicated he does not want to resort to taking the institution to court.

In Kamloops, Tk̓emlups te Secwepemc chief Rosanne Casimir, who has enlisted the help of the British Columbia coroner to help identify students' remains and causes of deaths, told reporters the tribe had never received any records from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate who ran the school.

Casimir said the nation's findings are so far preliminary and she expects a final report, including technical details, will be ready by the end of the month.

He urged Catholics across Canada to reach out and "make it clear" that the church needed to take responsibility for its role in the residential school system.

An official apology from the Pope for the Catholic Church's role in residential schools was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada's 94 calls to action. The Catholic Church as a whole in Canada was not associated with the Residential Schools, nor was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The school was run by the Catholic Church between the late 1800s and the 1960s.

The UN called on the Vatican to help investigate a mass grave found at a Catholic school for Indigenous children in Canada.

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