Pope apologizes for sex abuse at residential schools

STORY: In a visit to Quebec City on Thursday (July 28), Pope Francis made some of his strongest remarks yet condemning Canada's former residential schools for indigenous children, specifically addressing the sexual abuse which occurred at the schools for the very first time.

At an evening service at the Quebec City cathedral, the Pope said Canada's Catholic Church was on a quote "new path" after being "devastated by the evil perpetrated by some of its children."

“...I am thinking in particular of the sexual abuse committed against minors and vulnerable people. Crimes that require strong actions and an irreversible fight. I would like to, together with you, once again apologize to all the victims. The pain and shame that we experienced must be an occasion for conversion. Never again."

The Pope's comments arrive at the tail end of a self-described “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada this past week aimed at apologizing to survivors of the residential school system, which separated over 150,000 indigenous children from their families and subjected many of them to starvation and sexual abuse.

That tour kicked off with a historic apology in the town of Maskwacis on Monday where the Pope met with indigenous leaders.

But what was supposed to be a first step towards reconciliation fell short of what many survivors hoped to hear, including acknowledgement of the sexual abuse at the schools.

And earlier on Thursday at a mass just outside Quebec City, two indigenous women unfurled a banner asking the Pope to formally rescind 15th century edicts known as the doctrine of discovery, in which the head of the church justified taking indigenous land in the New World.

One residential school survivor, Paul Dixon, told Reuters apologies wouldn't be enough to make up for that history.

"The Pope, you have to realize, apologized on behalf of these bad apples. He didn't apologize about the Catholic Church running the 60 percent of the residential – over 60 percent of the residential (schools) – he didn't apologize for that. He came here, I don't know, asking for forgiveness? I don't know. Not from me anyways."

In a statement, the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he had met with the pope privately on Wednesday (July 27), discussing the need to quote "take concrete action to repatriate indigenous artifacts, provide access to residential schools documents, address the doctrine of discovery, and ensure justice for survivors."

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