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Pope Francis apologizes for abuses in Catholic-run residential schools in Canada

Max Civili
Press TV, Rome

On Friday, the head of the Holy See, Pope Francis made a historic apology for the abuses by members of the Catholic Church against indigenous children that occurred in a span of over 100 years, until 1996.

In a final and public audience, the pontiff stood before a room filled with almost 200 Indigenous delegates in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace asking for God’s forgiveness for the deplorable conduct of church clergy.

At least 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from their families and forced to attend Catholic-run boarding schools where kids were forcibly converted to Christianity and submitted to physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual mistreatment.

It is evident that the contents of the faith cannot be transmitted in a way that is extraneous to the faith itself.

Pope Francis' apology came after a week of private separate talks with Canada's First Nations, Inuit and Métis indigenous delegations.

In 2015, a federal commission of inquiry into Canada’s residential schools, known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, found that the Catholic-run system amounted to “cultural genocide”.

Indigenous leaders are also urging the Catholic Church to distance itself - once and for all - from the so-called Doctrine of Discovery, a concept used to justify European sovereignty over Indigenous lands and people.

The doctrine - introduced in the fifteenth century - considers lands held by Indigenous Peoples to be terra nullius, a Latin term meaning land belonging to nobody.

At the end of the final audience Pope Francis said he hoped to visit Canada, possibly in July. Dene National Chief Gerald Antoine, who led one of the delegations said Indigenous leaders should be part of the planning of such a visit in which they expect the pontiff to issue a formal apology to indigenous communities.

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