Catholic bishops news conference only adds confusion around Pope’s apology to residential school survivors - APTN NewsAPTN News

Catholic bishops news conference only adds confusion around Pope’s apology to residential school survivors



(Residential school survivor Evelyn Korkmaz, left, Senator Murray Sinclair, and NDP MP Romeo Saganash at a news conference in Ottawa) 

Kathleen Martens
Annette Francis
APTN News
A news conference to clear the air about the Pope’s apology to Indian residential school survivors only seemed to confuse things further.

Bishop Lionel Gendron told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday the Catholic church is a “decentralized” organization and Pope Francis can’t be held responsible for what others have done.

But Senator Murray Sinclair called that “a failure” and said the apology demanded by his Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is needed by survivors to heal.

Senior leaders of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops addressed the media in Ottawa in front of an NDP motion to be tabled in the House of Commons calling on Pope Francis to apologize for residential schools. The motion failed after one MP voted no. It’s not clear who voted against it, but in a scrum prior to Question Period, Conservative Indigenous Affairs Critic said it has no place in parliament.

“We like to keep a separation between church and state in terms of Parliament directing specific actions,” she said. “And I think we also believe that that’s an important distinction to keep, which the other parties don’t believe.”

The bishops said the Pope may apologize in person if he came to Canada and met with Indigenous peoples.

But according to Richard Gagnon, Archbishop of Winnipeg and vice-president of the CCCB, the church has already done so, said.

“The pope never said he wouldn’t apologize,” Gagnon said. “What the Holy Father did say was he would not personally respond to (TRC) call to Action 58.”

Does that mean Yes or No the Pope will apologize?

“Our concern is that it’s important to clear up any misconceptions that are out there and correct any inaccuracies,” Gagnon added.

The answer confused reporters who continued to yell questions as the black-robed religious figures left the room.


APTN Reporter Annette Francis gives us more from the news conference in Ottawa

 


Sinclair was accompanied by NDP-MPs Charlie Angus and Romeo Saganash (Abitibi-Baie-James-Nunavik-Eeyou), who bashed the bishops’ behaviour.

“I am disgusted,” said Saganash, a Cree politician from Quebec who survived 10 years in residential school.

“To state ‘the Catholic church as a whole in Canada was not associated with the residential schools’ pushes this church towards very irresponsible, historical, revisionism,” added Angus (Timmins-James Bay), a Catholic.

Sen. Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC, said it was sad to see the church try and distance itself from the issue now.

“They’re not taking responsibility and that’s a shame,” he said.

It took survivor Evelyn Korkmaz, who shared the stage with the politicians, to clarify the subject.

“The church has acknowledged wrongdoing,” she said. “So all we’re asking for is a verbal apology.”

Korkmaz attended notorious St. Anne’s residential school in Angus’s riding, whose survivors are battling Ottawa for the same compensation offered other survivors.

Angus, who has been championing their fight, said the church has to apologize and noted he was “distressed” Canadian bishops weren’t insisting he do that.

But Gagnon defended the head of the church.

“I agree with the way the Pope is handling this in waiting for an opportune time,” he said.

“He has been invited to Canada from the prime minister, from three of our presidents of the Catholic conference of bishops of Canada…His response had to do with Call to Action No. 58 and its rather strict confines.”

Pope Francis has apologized to Indigenous peoples in Bolivia for the impact of colonialism and said sorry to survivors of priestly sexual abuse in Ireland.

“We have a track record with this Pope who is not afraid to confront the hard issues,” Gagnon added.

kmartens@aptn.ca

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4 Responses to “Catholic bishops news conference only adds confusion around Pope’s apology to residential school survivors”

  1. indigenous@offilive.com'
    kevin April 18, 2018 at 9:32 pm #

    “We like to keep a separation between church and state in terms of Parliament directing specific actions,” she said. “And I think we also believe that that’s an important distinction to keep, which the other parties don’t believe.”
    ?????
    How can “she” claim to have ‘separation between church and state’ when the doctrine of discovery is still the law of the land today? Even though the Holy See abrogated it in 1537 see here https://aila.ngo/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/Holy-See.pdf Is this not a miracle of resurrection akin to Jesus?

  2. Sunrisemetatawabin@gmail.com'
    Sunrise Metatawabin April 19, 2018 at 12:13 am #

    This is the very behaviour and atheist approach shown by persons who wear a black robe. Their act of no transparency defys why Jesus established the apostles. The astrocities faced by young children under the Roman Catholic Church Empire by their very priesthood subjects must be corrected. Why does one Pope feel at a grave loss to apologize for his own clergy of priests who committed crimes against children? The Pope must put up a resistance approach against pedophilia. He must fight against Evil unless the Pope cannot resist his own temptous faith! Give the empowerment of civil rights back to the People who have suffered many years of Crimes against Humanity! If the Pope does not wish to address the Action protocols then the Pope can and should relieve himself of his duties regarding failure to protect the rights of Human Intetests! Watch the children of the World today! They still feel burdened and feel the silence of horrendous crimes which continue to plight children across these vast nations of humanity! Stand up and be proud Pope defy the odds.

  3. Renfe@blog.renfe.com'
    Renfe April 21, 2018 at 7:53 pm #

    Man With A Name, what would you say if a President either was ignorant of a major issue overseas or disregarded informed opinion from his ambassadors? You would say that such a man either was an ignoramus or woefully irresponsible. Well, a Pope is the Roman Catholic equivalent of a President, and a nuncio is the equivalent of an ambassador. You cannot tell me that using Catholic churches as refugee centers for Muslims was not a serious issue. If the nuncio failed to contact his superiors about the situation or lied about it, then the nuncio was at fault. If the nuncio remained in his position afterward, that”s the Pope”s fault. If the Pope ignored the situation despite evidence that could not be ignored, then that”s the Pope”s fault. In any event, the buck stops with Benedict, just like the buck stopped with Harry Truman. I”m tired of people making excuses for Benedict (or any other Pope) because of the persona he projects, the office he holds or the theology he embodies. I truly believe that history will judge Benedict as one of the most ineffective Popes ever, especially in confronting seriously issues plaguing the Catholic Church.

  4. duke_of_windsorcastle@hotmail.com'
    bob April 26, 2018 at 3:19 pm #

    Was this not an apology ? Perhaps Phil Fontaine can step up and explain how his words were taken so out of context if this indeed was not an apology?

    https://www.archbalt.org/pope-expresses-sorrow-for-suffering-of-canadian-aboriginal-students/