Catholic Church must ‘address deniers’ following apology says Murray Sinclair
Sorry is ‘an important milestone’ but more work must be done, according to the retired senator and former judge...
The former chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is urging the Catholic Church to tackle residential school denialism following Pope Francis’s apology on Friday morning.
Church leaders who refuse to accept survivors’ truths are, right now, “the biggest source of resistance to reconciliation,” says Murray Sinclair.
“Denialism was allowed to flourish because of the silence that was coming from the Pope,” said the retired senator in an interview. “With this statement, those denying within the church — or denying in public because of the church being able to support denialism — will no longer have that ladder upon which they can stand.”
On the final day of an Indigenous delegation’s Vatican visit, the pontiff uttered a long-awaited and much-anticipated sorry “for the role that a number of Catholics” had in abusing children forced to attend Canada’s residential schools.
“All these things are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Francis said. “For the deplorable conduct of those members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry.”
The role these Catholics had in wounding Indigenous children and stripping them of their identity, culture and spirituality filled him with feelings of shame, sorrow and indignation, the pontiff added.
His apology comes nearly seven years after the TRC delivered its final report. In it, Call to Action 58 urged the pope to apologize for the “Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children.”
Pope’s apology a powerful gesture, but unlikely to affect court cases in Canada, experts say READ
Francis didn’t outright apologize for the church’s institutional role in perpetrating the abuse but rather the bad behaviour of individual Catholics that, he suggested, had turned their backs on their faith.
Sinclair told APTN the contrition “is a major step” but said Francis still must come to Canada and face survivors to fulfill Call to Action 58. Sinclair also said the reference to policies of cultural assimilation was a notable insinuation of institutional guilt.
“That’s important,” Sinclair said. “That should be taken together with the apology for the individuals who committed wrongs. The one thing that arguably was missing was an acknowledgement that they put those people in place, in those positions of power where they could get away with that.”
Nevertheless, Sinclair said in a press release it was an important moment and long past time the church took responsibility for “a dark chapter of Canada’s colonialist history, one which the Church was a key co-author.”
The former judge took control of the TRC in 2009 as it began crisscrossing the country seeking out survivors and documenting the horrors of residential schools. He was appointed to the Senate in 2016 and retired in 2021.
CANADA leads THE WAY on reconciliation - is AMERICA next? Real reconciliation requires JUSTICE and arrests! TLH