Current Reality

June 7, 2021: Toronto Star – Pope Francis continued his resistance to issuing a formal apology for the role of the Catholic Church in the legacy of the residential school system in Canada.

All Church Parties to the Truth and Reconciliation Settlement Agreement have issued formal apologies from their leadership – except Pope Francis of the Roman Catholic Church – for their policies and actions that led to the abuses experienced by students at the church-run residential schools as documented by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The Catholic Church was also the only one of the four Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement who failed in their efforts to raise funds for Indigenous reconciliation programs and services. All others were successful.

Each of the church parties to the Settlement Agreement have made commitments to ongoing education activities within their respective congregations and institutions and have all agreed to respect and honour Indigenous spirituality. Schools of Theology and Seminaries are making progress.

Calls to Action

Call to Action # 58Papal apology from the Roman Catholic Church
Call to Action # 59Develop education strategies to teach impacts of colonization
Call to Action # 60Develop and teach curriculum on Aboriginal spirituality
Call to Action # 61Permanent funding for healing, language & reconciliation projects

Current and Ongoing Problems

Refusal of Pope Francis of the Catholic Church to apologize

June 7, 2021: Toronto Star – “In a speech Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, and in a statement posted on Twitter, Pope Francis addressed the news that the remains of 215 children had been found at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C. expressing his ‘closeness to the Canadian People who had been traumatized by (the) shocking discovery…His speech was met with anger and criticism on social media from Canadian politicians, Indigenous leaders and others. The archbishop of Toronto indicted that one reason for the lack of an apology is that “each diocese is independent and responsible for its own actions, and that approximately 16  out of 70 Roman Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former residential sch

May 2, 2018: Toronto Star – Parliament of Canada votes 269 to 10 across all party lines to call on Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the Indigenous Residential School system and also to call on the Catholic Church to “resume best efforts” to raise funds as agreed in the 2006 settlement deal between residential school students, religious groups that ran the schools and the federal government. The motion also asked Catholic entities to make “consistent and sustained “efforts to provide documents from the schools to former students who want them. (Toronto Star)

March 27, 2018 – Refusal of Pope Francis to apologize for the role in operating and managing up to 60% of the Residential schools in Canada. Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that the pope could not “personally” apologize.“The Catholic Church is the only church that has not formally apologized to the survivors. Perry Bellegarde, National Chief for the AFN, Dec. 16, 2015”

Roman Catholic Church for failure in fund-raising effort

Stated inability to pay the $21.3M balance owing of the mandated $25M to be raised in a “best-efforts,” Canada-wide fundraising campaign by the four Church Parties to the Settlement Agreement. The Church managed to raise only $3.7M. The other church parties to the Settlement Agreement used all the required funds for Indigenous reconciliation programs and services.

Jan. 6, 2016 – As a result of the Catholic fundraising campaign falling more than 80 per cent short of its goal, a reimbursement has been made to the other church parties to the Settlement Agreement:

  • Anglican Church of Canada: $2.8M to apply to its ongoing Anglican Fund for Healing and Reconciliation, which runs reconciliation projects in remote aboriginal communities across Canada.
  • Presbyterian Church of Canada’s $1.3 million cash payment to apply to Indigenous programming
  • United Church of Canada: $2.2M reimbursement TBD at press time

Catholic Register