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Pope apologizes for abuse of indigenous children in Canadian schools as part of ‘penitential pilgrimage’


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Pope Francis spoke to indigenous people on the outskirts of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on Monday, apologizing on behalf of the Catholic Church for the oppression and “forced assimilation” and mistreatment of children in religious residential schools. .

More than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and placed in residential schools between 1881 and 1996. Several children were allegedly starved, beaten and sexually abused.

“I am sorry. I apologize, in particular, for the way in which many members of the Church and religious communities cooperated, especially through their indifference to the projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of the era, culminating in the residential school system,” Pope Francis said.

Canadian leaders have been aware of the many children dying in schools since 1907, but the incidents drew more attention after last year’s discoveries of what appeared to be unmarked graves in or near former residential schools.

POPE FRANCIS TRAVELS TO CANADA TO APOLOGIZE FOR ABUSE AGAINST INDIGENOUS PEOPLE IN CATHOLIC SCHOOLS

Pope Francis kisses the hand of an indigenous Canadian woman as he arrives at the international airport in Edmonton, Canada, Sunday, July 24, 2022. Pope Francis begins a week-long trip to Canada on Sunday to apologize to indigenous peoples for the abuses committed by Catholic missionaries in the country. notorious residential schools. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
(The Associated Press)

The Catholic Church of Canada says its dioceses and religious orders have provided more than $50 million in cash and in-kind contributions, and expect to add a further $30 million over the next five years.

The pope called his trip a “penitential pilgrimage.”

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Pope Francis delivers his remarks as he meets with indigenous communities, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, on Monday, July 25, 2022. The Pope Francis begins a "penitential" visit to Canada to apologize to the survivors of residential schools in the country, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the "cultural genocide" of generations of indigenous children trying to eradicate their languages, cultures and traditions.  Francis set out to visit the graveyard at the old residential school in Maskwacis.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis delivers his remarks as he meets with indigenous communities, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, on Monday, July 25, 2022. The Pope Francis begins a “penitential” visit to Canada to apologize to survivors of the country’s residential schools, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the “cultural genocide” of generations of indigenous children by trying to wipe out their languages, cultures and traditions. Francis set out to visit the graveyard at the old residential school in Maskwacis. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

“I have come to your homelands to tell you my pain in person. To implore God’s forgiveness, healing and reconciliation. To express my closeness to you and pray with you and for you,” he said.

Pope Francis leaves with indigenous people after praying at a cemetery at the former residential school in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, Monday, July 25, 2022. Pope Francis begins a "penitential" visit to Canada to apologize to the survivors of residential schools in the country, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the "cultural genocide" of generations of indigenous children trying to eradicate their languages, cultures and traditions.  Francis set out to visit the graveyard at the old residential school in Maskwacis.  (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Pope Francis leaves with indigenous people after praying at a former residential school cemetery in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, Monday, July 25, 2022. Pope Francis begins a “penitential” visit to Canada to ask forgiveness to the survivors of the country residence. schools, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the “cultural genocide” of generations of indigenous children by trying to destroy their languages, cultures and traditions. Francis set out to visit the graveyard at the old residential school in Maskwacis. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
(The Associated Press)

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The Pope’s speech took place on the grounds that were once home to the Ermineskin Indian Residential School, but now have a school run by four local Cree nations.

Thousands of the tickets were reserved for indigenous survivors of the residential schools. Indigenous leaders at Treaty 6, the place Francis is visiting in Alberta, said they were overwhelmed with requests from survivors who want to attend the event.

Fox News Landon Mion, The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.



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