About the calling on Catholic bishops to Invite the Pope to apologize to Residential School survivors

by Fr. Peter Bisson, SJ

Father Peter Bisson, SJ in the panel of the TRC held last June 2016

April 3, 2019 — Only one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action is directed exclusively to the Catholic Church. Call 58 asks the Pope to come to Canada and apologize “…to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

Motion 325 also (to which Senator Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, responded) invokes commitments made under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, whose implementation began in 2007 and continues today. The heart of the motion however, and the hope of many, many Indigenous Catholics, is the request that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops invite the Pope to come for this act of reconciliation. Prime Minister Trudeau and others have already done so. But the Pope, who values collaboration, will not come unless the bishops also invite him.

Many Catholic dioceses and religious orders have already apologized for their roles in residential schools. The Oblates of Mary Immaculate did so first, in 1991. But no religious order or diocese can speak for the others or for the whole Church in Canada. The Pope can.

Why come here to do it? Popes have already expressed regret or apology to Indigenous Peoples for the damaging connections between evangelization and colonization. Pope Francis did so in Bolivia in 2015. But no one likes being lumped with other groups in some homogenizing global category. The experience of Indigenous Peoples in Canada is distinctive --for example, they are not conquered peoples but Treaty Peoples. Finally, as we know from personal experiences, presence really helps reconciliation. In this case, not only presence and good words, but also participating in Indigenous ceremony, as Pope St. John Paul II did in Midland in 1984, would really strengthen the communion.

So let us prepare our own reconciliations so the Pope can build on them!

You can read the full text of Sen. Murray Sinclair's response to motion 325 by clicking here.

Recent News

June 6, 2019 — Jesuit brothers go wherever they are needed and do whatever needs to be done, as “Bros” to their fellow Jesuits, and as “Bros” to all of us looking to find God in all things.

August 23, 2019 — During his visit to the Jesuit provinces of Asia, Father General of the Society of Jesus, Arturo Sosa, gave a speech to the lay people involved in the works and activities of the Society of Jesus in Taiwan. This speech was posted online by the General Curia of the Jesuits.

August 23, 2019 — According to Bill Blakeney, a lawyer working as legal counsel for the Jesuits of Canada, the process behind the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was both “frustrating” and “moving” at the same time.

August 11, 2019 — Do you have a passion for social justice? Canadian Jesuits International (CJI) is preparing a study tour in July 2020 for Canadian educators and anyone interested in social justice and global solidarity.

August 8, 2019 — This last article in the Prayer with Preferences series returns to the ultimate foundation of the whole process of Universal Apostolic Preferences, and thus to the basis of the whole discernment process that will guide their appropriation in the Jesuit apostolates and communities across Canada.

August 8, 2019 — The triennial Colloquium 2019: Building Communities of Justice and Hope Jesuit schools conference was an amazing experience for the team of ten Loyola High School staff members who attended this year.

August 8, 2019 — On July 31st, the Jesuits of Canada celebrated with two special masses the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. At the same time, this date marked the first year of the newly formed Canadian province. Jesuits, colleagues and friends came from all over.

view all news

Search news


Campion's Brag

Relations Mai 2019

Canadian Jesuits

Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre
Since 1946, Manresa has welcomed retreatants to grow closer to God on 21 beautiful acres in ...