Will Pope Francis come to apologize on Canadian soil for the Church’s involvement in residential schools as requested by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)?
That’s the burning question posed to Saskatoon bishops during a conference on restorative justice in Saskatoon Friday.
“At the recent (meeting) of the Canadian Bishop’s Conference, where all the Canadian Catholic Bishops come together, we did spend a good deal of time looking at the TRC’s call to action including the apology but unfortunately, it’s not up to the Canadian bishops that will make the decision, it’s the Holy Father,” said Saskatoon Bishop Don Bolen. “But we’re taking the calls to action very seriously on how we can respond to it, so it’s a work in progress.”
Earlier this year when the final TRC report was released, one of the many calls for action included a sitting with Pope Francis so the head of the Catholic Church can apologize for the Church’s role in residential schools.
All the way from Italy to Saskatoon, Papal Nuncio Luigi Bonazzi said the Catholic Church has heard the call to action and while there are many things that need to line up for Pope Francis to visit the Great White North, they are working to see how quickly the Pope can make the trip.
“We have listened carefully and given serious attention to this call for action and now we are seriously trying to see how we can respond positively,” Bonazzi said. “You understand that, for Pope Francis it’s a trip that must be prepared for; we are trying to see how to respond in a concrete and positive way to this request that isn’t an easy request.”
The TRC’s call to action asked for a visit from the Pope within a year of the final report which was delivered at the end of May. Bishop Boland said he’s confident Pope Francis will come to Canada.
“In the TRC process we heard about waves of profound suffering and we know that Pope Francis throughout his ministry has found ways to respond to people who are suffering,” Bolen said.
At the core of the TRC’s report was to pave the way for healing; Bishop Boland said the church is committed to working with the indigenous community on the path to healing.
“We also heard about our involvement … and that the churches were implicated in a project of assimilation that was disastrous for indigenous people so we want to be part of the healing process.”