The chief of the body representing Saskatchewan’s First Nations says the conversation around a papal apology for residential school survivors isn’t over.
Wednesday saw the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issue a letter to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada saying Pope Francis has declined to come to Canada to deliver an apology for the Catholic Church’s role in running many of the schools, which have become notorious for a legacy of physical and sexual abuse against students.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said he was surprised the Pope wouldn’t be showing up, given the level of effort made by the Canadian government.
“The prime minister of Canada went to (the Pope’s) residence and basically said, advocating for our First Nations: ‘come and apologize to the residential school survivors’ and he still didnt’ listen.”
Cameron said he expected dialogue to continue with Saskatchewan’s Catholic bishops, churches and dioceses in hopes of getting them to work to change Pope Francis’ mind.
“He’s going to have to do it. And if it’s not this pope, maybe the next pope,” Cameron said.
Although he said he’s willing to be patient, Cameron said there was a sense of urgency to get the opportunity for closure for as many residential school survivors as possible.,
“For some of our survivors that are up there in age, it certainly would have been gratifying for them to hear the apology before they leave us,” he said.
Saskatoon bishop shares disappointment over Pope’s decision
He added that he remains hopeful the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) request for the Pope to apologize would be fulfilled in the future. While the Pope isn’t coming, Hagemoen said he interpreted the message from the CCCB as a directive for bishops and local churches to do their own work on reconciliation.
“He is directing us to action,” he said.
“That’s where I invest myself, and my brother bishops of Saskatchewan invest themselves. There’s a lot that’s been done but a lot that needs to be done.”
Hagemoen added the Saskatoon Catholic community is committed to partnering with the Indigenous community, pointing to the creation of a Diocesan Council on Truth and Reconciliation as a positive step.
“We stay the course and do the good that’s been going on.”