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2009-APR-15: Vatican: Pope to reach out to natives in Canada; apology possible: Assembly Chief Phil Fontaine will lead a delegation of Native Canadians to Rome on APR-29 for an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. Fontaine said: "This will be a historic moment for aboriginals, survivors of residential schools, and for Canadian society."  G?ald Baril, spokesperson for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said: "We know the Pope will produce a text in which he will express his solicitude, recognize what has occurred and manifest regret." However, it is not known whether the Pope will issue a formal apology for the horrendous physical and sexual abuse suffered by Native children in Catholic-run residential schools.

Fontaine said: "The relationship between the First Nations of Canada and the Catholic Church has been stained by the actions of the past. This meeting with the Pope will allow the process of reconciliation to begin."

An estimated 150,000 aboriginal children were forced into Canada's Indian residential schools between 1920 and the 1970s. Almost three-quarters of the schools were run by Catholic missionary congregations. The United, Anglican & Presbyterian churches and the Federal Government have recently apologized for their roles in the abuse. That leaves the Roman Catholic Church as the only holdout from among the major groups responsible for the abuse.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Laura-Julie Perreault, "Pope will reach out to natives in Canada; Plans to express regret for abuses in schools," La Presse, 2009-APR-15, at:

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-APR-20
Latest update: 2009-APR-20
Compiler: B.A. Robinson

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