Trudeau seeks papal apology over Canada school abuse

Trudeau seeks papal apology over Canada school abuse

Pope Francis appears alternately smiling and scowling alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a series of pool photos taken at their meeting in Vatican City on Monday.

Following the meeting, Trudeau said that he had encouraged the Pope to issue an apology for the role of the Catholic Church in administering the "residential schools" that had established in Canada in the 19th century to educate the children of native tribes.

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Calls to Action aims to redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation. Families were often coerced by police into sending their children to these schools as part of a policy, intended, "not to educate them, but primarily to break their link to their culture and identity", according to the commission's findings.

"He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world", Trudeau told reporters.

Prime Minster Trudeau had also let it be known to journalists that he would extend an invitation to Francis to visit Canada.

In a 2009 meeting with an Indigenous delegation from Canada that included Phil Fontaine, a residential school survivor and then-grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Pope Benedict expressed "sorrow" and "sympathy" and condemned those who had harmed children.


While in Italy, he also visited the Roma Soccer Club Stadium and will meet Italy's prime minister and president. In March, Francis said sorry for the Catholic Church's role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide while, on the plane back from Armenia last June, the Pope said Christians should ask for forgiveness for their treatment of gay people.

Visibly relaxed during the public minutes of the audience, the Pope and Mr. Trudeau exchanged smiles and jokes without mentioning their 36 minutes of private conversation.

"We talked about how important it is to both highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet, with the moral and ethical obligation to lead and to build a better future for all people on this earth", he said.

It is unusual for a government or head of state to "pre-brief" what they are going to say to the Pope: papal audiences, and what is discussed, normally remain private.

A spokesperson said Trudeau had a private drink with former prime minister Matteo Renzi on Monday evening. Trudeau presented Pope Francis with a rare set of Jesuit Relations books and a Montaignais-French dictionary written by a French Jesuit in the 17th century.

The Pope gave the Prime Minister a copy of the encyclical on the environment as well as ones on family and evangelism and a gold medal marking his four years as pontiff.

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