Treatment of Indigenous at Canadian residential schools cultural 'genocide': Pope

Francis said he repeatedly condemned the system that severed family ties and attempted to impose new cultural beliefs as "catastrophic" to generations of Indigenous peoples.

Published: 30th July 2022 03:46 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th July 2022 03:49 PM   |  A+A-

Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard the papal flight back from Canada on Saturday, July 30, 2022, where he paid a six-day pastoral visit. (Photo | AP)

Pope Francis speaks to journalists aboard the papal flight back from Canada on Saturday, July 30, 2022, where he paid a six-day pastoral visit. (Photo | AP)

By Associated Press

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE: Pope Francis agreed Saturday that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural "genocide."

Speaking to reporters while en route home from Canada, Francis said he didn’t use the term during his trip to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in the schools because it never came to mind.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in residential schools to assimilate them constituted a "cultural genocide."

Some 150,000 children from the late 1800s to the 1970s were subject to the forced assimilation policy, aimed at making them fully Christian and Canadian. Physical and sexual abuse was rampant at the schools, and children were beaten for speaking their Native languages.

ALSO READ | Pope apologises for 'evil' Christians committed in Canada's indigenous residential schools

"It’s true I didn’t use the word because it didn’t come to mind, but I described genocide, no?" Francis said. "I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide."

Francis said he repeatedly condemned the system that severed family ties and attempted to impose new cultural beliefs as "catastrophic" to generations of Indigenous peoples.

In the main apology of his Canada trip, delivered Monday, Francis spoke of "cultural destruction," but he didn’t use the term "cultural genocide" as some school survivors had hoped and expected.

VIEW PHOTOS | Pope in Canada apologises for school abuse

"It’s a technical word, ‘genocide.’ I didn’t use it because it didn’t come to mind, but I described that, and it’s true it’s a genocide," he said on Saturday.



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