The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has released an official letter of apology to the Indigenous Peoples for the role of the Church in the Indian Residential Schools. Today, on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we wish to share this letter with you.
Statement of Apology by the Catholic Bishops of Canada to the Indigenous Peoples of This Land
The Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary this week, took the opportunity to affirm and acknowledge to the Indigenous Peoples the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.
Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. The Catholic Bishops of Canada acknowledged the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual.
They also sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day. Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, the Catholic Bishops of Canada expressed their profound remorse and apologized unequivocally.
Together with the many pastoral initiatives already underway in dioceses across the country, the Bishops pledged to undertake fundraising in each region of the country to support initiatives discerned locally with Indigenous partners.
The Bishops are making a nationwide collective financial commitment to support healing and reconciliation initiatives for residential school survivors, their families, and their communities. With a target of $30 million over up to five years, this will include initiatives in every region of the country. The commitment will be achieved at the local level, with parishes across Canada being encouraged to participate and amplify the effort.
Furthermore, the Bishops invited the Indigenous Peoples to journey with us into a new era of reconciliation, helping us to prioritize initiatives of healing, to listen to the experience of Indigenous Peoples, especially to the survivors of Indian Residential Schools, and to educate our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality.
The Bishops further committed to continue the work of providing documentation or records that will assist in the memorialization of those buried in unmarked graves. A delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders/knowledge keepers, and youth will meet with the Holy Father in December 2021. Pope Francis will encounter and listen to the Indigenous Peoples, so as to discern how he can support our common desire to renew
relationships and walk together along the path of hope in the coming years.
The Bishops of Canada have pledged to work with the Holy See and our Indigenous partners on the possibility of a pastoral visit by the Pope to Canada as part of this healing journey. We are committed to continue the journey with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of this land.
For more information, please contact the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall at 613.738.5025 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops at www.cccb.ca .