STORY: Pope Francis said the Catholic Church should accept institutional blame for the harm done to indigenous Canadians in residential schools that tried to wipe out native cultures.
Those remarks came Tuesday, which was day three of what he’s called a “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada.
He was speaking to a gathering at Lac Ste. Anne, a lakeside site about 44 miles west of Edmonton sacred to both indigenous Canadian Catholics and those of European origin.
After blessing the lake, Francis prayed for healing of "the wounds of the violence” suffered by the indigenous people.
“In this blessed place where harmony and peace reign, we present to you the disharmony of our experiences, the terrible effects of colonization, the pain of so many families, grandparents and children.
Lord, help us to heal our wounds. We know that this requires effort, care and concrete actions on our part, but we also know, Lord, that we cannot do this alone.”
Francis also said everyone in the church required healing: “from the temptation of closing in on ourselves, of defending the institution rather than seeking the truth, of preferring worldly power to serving the Gospel."
In Canada, more than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and forced into residential schools over more than a century.
Many were starved, beaten for speaking their native languages and sexually abused.
The pope’s call for the Church to accept blame takes his historic apology on Monday a step further.
Indigenous leaders and survivors of the schools had called the apology a highly significant step towards reconciliation, but believed the Church and Canada’s government needed to take more action, including accepting blame for their roles in the system.