MASKWACIS, Alberta (AP) – Pope Francis has apologized for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with Canada’s “catastrophic” policy of Indigenous residential schools.
The pontiff says the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed their families and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today.
Francis spoke Monday near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, on lands of four Cree nations south of Edmonton, Alberta.
He said, “I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples.”
The long-awaited apology opens Francis’ weeklong “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, which is meant to help the church on its path of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and help victims heal.