Pope Says Genocide Happened in Church Schools in Canada for Indigenous Children

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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, July 30 (Reuters) – Pope Francis said on Saturday that what happened at boarding schools that Roman Catholics and other Christian churches had set up to forcibly assimilate indigenous children from Canada was a genocide.

The pope made the comment as he returned to Rome from a week-long trip to Canada, where he issued a historic apology for the church’s role in politics. Read more

An Indigenous Canadian journalist on the plane asked him why he had not used the word genocide during the trip and whether he would accept that members of the Church had participated in genocide.

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“It’s true that I didn’t use the word because I didn’t think about it. But I described genocide. I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this activity, which was genocide “, Francis said.

“I condemned this, taking children and trying to change their culture, their mind, change their traditions, a race, a whole culture,” the pope added.

Pope Francis holds a press conference aboard the papal plane during his return flight after visiting Canada, July 29, 2022. REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane / Pool

Between 1881 and 1996, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were separated from their families and taken to residential schools. Scores of children were starved, beaten and sexually abused in a system that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada has called “cultural genocide”. Read more

Schools were run on behalf of governments by religious groups, mostly Catholic priests and nuns.

“Yes, genocide is a technical word but I didn’t use it because I didn’t think about it, but I described….yes, it’s genocide, yes, yes, clearly. You you can say I said it was genocide,” he said.

Last Monday, Francis traveled to the town of Maskwacis, site of two former boarding schools, where he apologized and called forced assimilation “wrong” and a “disastrous mistake”. Read more

He also apologized for the Christian support for the “settler mentality” of the time.

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Reporting by Philip Pullella Editing by Frances Kerry

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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