ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – (AP) – Pope Francis agreed on Saturday that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to cultural “genocide” .
Speaking to reporters as he returned from Canada, Francis said he had not used the term on his trip to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in schools because it had never occurred to him. in mind.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada determined in 2015 that the forcible removal of Indigenous children from their homes and their placement in residential schools to assimilate them constituted “cultural genocide”.
Some 150,000 children from the late 1800s to the 1970s were subjected to the policy of forced assimilation, aimed at making them fully Christian and Canadian. Physical and sexual abuse was commonplace in schools, and children were beaten for speaking their native language.
“It’s true that I didn’t use the word because it didn’t cross my mind, but I was describing a genocide, right?” said Francois. “I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this work, which was genocide.”
Francis said he has repeatedly condemned the system for breaking family ties and trying to impose new cultural beliefs as “catastrophic” on generations of Indigenous people.
In the main apology for his trip to Canada, delivered on Monday, Francis spoke of “cultural destruction”, but he did not use the term “cultural genocide” as some school survivors had hoped and expected.
“It’s a technical word, ‘genocide’. I didn’t use it because it didn’t cross my mind, but I described it, and it’s true that it’s genocide,” he said on Saturday.
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