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Douglas Todd: Pope’s apology helped boost reconciliation efforts

Opinion: One of the common reactions to the Pope was that more effort is needed to radically improve people’s lives.

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Pope Francis shows how much his church cares about what his church imposes on them by flying to Canada to apologize to indigenous peoples, less than a year after being asked to do so. clarified.

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Canadians, Indigenous peoples and other Canadians reacted across the map after the Pope asked for forgiveness for “the evils committed by no small number of Catholics who contributed to the cultural assimilation policy.” Many expressed gratitude, but others criticized him for being lacking.

Where do Canada and Catholics go from here when it comes to Indigenous, Inuit, and M├ętis peoples?

Considering he’s responsible for 1.4 billion Catholics, it’s kind of surprising that the physically ailing 85-year-old pope flew to Canada for the five-day event.

The entire population of Canada is less than 1/40th of his church’s followers. His one-third of his 35 million citizens in Canada, as well as about one-third of his 1.6 million indigenous people in the country, consider themselves Roman Catholics. .

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Yet, at three events in Canada, he decided to shine a global spotlight on 125 federally funded boarding schools attended by nearly 150,000 First Nations people. His 60% of the school was run by Catholic orders, especially oblates.

This is not the first time the pope has apologized to indigenous peoples. The Jesuit from Argentina was the first pope to come from outside of Europe and in South America “humbly pardoned” the sins and crimes committed by the Catholic Church against the indigenous peoples during the so-called conquest of the Americas. I asked for

In Canada, many boarding school survivors and other Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples paid tribute to the Pope’s apology to North America. He seemed fascinated by the presence of a man widely considered humble, with more “liberal” and “leftist” views than any pope.

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But another cohort of Canadians, journalists in particular, were clearly less than impressed.

While many indigenous peoples expressed their gratitude to the pope, others criticized the pope for being lacking.
While many indigenous peoples expressed their gratitude to the pope, others criticized the pope for being lacking. Photo by Cole Burston /Getty Images

The alleged narrative in the media is aimed at a sizeable audience. The Catholic Church in Canada is somewhat underperforming here, despite being the largest religious group in the country and made up almost equally of people born here and those born outside the country.

A 2015 Angus Reed Institute survey found that two out of three Canadians worship Pope Francis, while the same survey firm found that 24% of Canadians are Roman Catholic this year. believe it is damaging the country, and 21% believe it is beneficial. Most of the rest believe there was no real impact. Islam is a little worse than Catholicism. However, Canadians’ positive assessment of Protestantism, Judaism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Judaism, and atheism outweighs the negative.

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There is no doubt that the Roman Catholic Church was late in apologizing. Especially compared to how United Church and Anglican leaders publicly lamented the church’s role in schools more than 30 years ago. Oblates said he apologized in 1991, but withheld it from high-ranking Catholic officials, presumably for legal reasons.

Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was the most high-profile person to force the Pope to fly to Canada. Some have suggested that Prime Minister Trudeau is diverting responsibility from Ottawa, who had founded the school in 1881 and was underfunded before most schools closed by the 1970s. However, the Prime Minister regularly expands on former Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s apology in 2008.

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Two of the biggest media issues that emerged from the Pope’s apology revolved around the terms “discovery doctrine” and “genocide.”

Activists wanted Pope Francis to withdraw the doctrine of discovery. It was created by the Vatican, along with the Spanish and Portuguese monarchies, in 1493 to claim rights to what land explorers “discovered”. However, legal scholars believe that this doctrine has been ignored for centuries, since the British King issued a royal proclamation confirming the existence of the Aboriginal title in 1763, and that it did not apply to the colonization of Canada. said it was not. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Canada will issue a statement on the complex issue.

Francis also admitted to reporters on the flight back to Rome that he believed what happened to the indigenous people of Canada was “genocide”. By using terminology that also applies to extermination, the Pope went further than Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls the school’s collective trauma “cultural genocide.”

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And what sparked the pope’s visit? Explosion? When the New York Times repeatedly reported that a “mass grave” had been discovered, the story went viral.

By the time Pope arrived, however, things had become more complicated. A few journalists, such as veteran Indigenous affairs writer Terry Grabin of the National Post, who believes boarding schools amount to cultural genocide, believe that the actual remains of the students have never been unearthed. I have made a careful effort to explain. Media editors began asking reporters to change references to the “suspect” grave.

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The exact number of student graves in existence may not be the point of view for most Canadians, Indigenous peoples and others. He believed that a “cultural massacre” had taken place in the school and that Canada had a moral obligation to improve life in the reserve.

A common view of the Pope’s apology was expressed by some ordinary indigenous people. He proposed to put productive energy into the basis of reconciliation.

Whether in forestry, natural gas, or indigenous-led urban real estate development, it will work together to continue to tackle poverty and suicide among indigenous peoples, raise employment levels, get more young people into higher education, and dozens more. It means furthering our billion-dollar business partnership. .

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Although the Truth and Reconciliation Report was released in 2015, many Indigenous peoples and other Canadians have been engaged in this process for over 40 years. The Pope’s historic apology in Canada in 2022 was seen by some as highly imperfect, but it makes the ongoing effort to mend ties look even more dynamic. Good intentions seem to do little to stop it from continuing for generations.

dtodd@postmedia.com

@Douglas Todd

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Douglas Todd: Pope’s apology helped boost reconciliation efforts

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