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Church Apologies for Indian Residential Schools

Approximately 70% of the forced Indian Residential Schooling in Canada was done by the Roman Catholic church. Pope Benedict expressed his sorrow for the suffering of Indigenous people in Canada’s residential schools to the Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief, Phil Fontaine, in April of 2009. However, the Roman Catholic church refused to formally apologize for its role in Canada’s policy of forced Indigenous assimilation and Indian Residential Schooling. At the centre of this refusal to apologize lies the irrevocable papal bull Romanus Pontifex issued in 1455 by Pope Nicholas V. Centuries of destruction and genocide resulted from the application of this document and its framework of dominance against Indigenous Peoples and their lands, territories and resources.

In April of 2022, Pope Francis apologized to Canada' Indigenous Peoples. However, he apologized for individual church members that abused Indigenous Peoples in Canada and did not apologize for the Catholic Church leadership's role in creating a doctrine of dominance and supporting the abuse and genocide of Indgenous Peoples with Catholic Church policies.

In May 2022, the Church of England's Archbishop Justin apologized for sins committed against First Nations, Inuit and Metis Peoples in Canada. This apology went further than Pope Francis' apology by admitting leadership of the Church of England were complicit in perpetrated cruelties. However, atonement [reparations] was not part of Archibishop Justin's apologies.  

In July of 2022, Pope Francis apologized in Canada to Indigenous People. Pope Francis did not refer to what occurred to Indigenous People in Canada as genocide until after he left Canada. Pope Francis' apology to Indigenous Peoples in Canada (1) referred to residential schools as, "a disatrous error", suggesting if genocide had succeeded, residential schooling was jusifiable; (2) he did not admit the Catholic Church's role as architect, coordinator, and perpetrator of Indigenous genocide in Canada and elsewhere in this world; and (3), Pope Francis did not recant historical Papal Bulls through which a doctrine of discovery originated. 

Four religious organizations in Canada have formally apologized to Indigenous people. Their apologies can be seen below:

Background on Indian Residential Schools:

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