Roman Catholic Archbishop of Regina Donald Bolen says the meeting between Indigenous leaders and Pope Francis will take place before the end of the year. Author of the article: Alec Salloum Publishing date: Jun 24, 2021 •
“It’s a rough day,” says archbishop Donald Bolen speaking over the phone. “It’s overwhelming.”
Bolen, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Regina, said the road to reconciliation will be long and fraught, but on Thursday, hearing the number of unmarked graves found at Cowessess First Nation was harrowing.In 2021, over $4 billion invested in companies specializing in buying, growing brands…
“Nothing prepared me for 751 unmarked graves,” said Bolen in an interview.
Earlier on Thursday morning Cowessess First Nation Chief Cadmus Delorme renewed calls for Pope Francis to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools.
Bolen said he and others have been trying to facilitate such an apology, but have thus far been unsuccessful.
“We tried to bring, as Saskatchewan bishops, we tried to bring the Pope to apologize here five years ago. We learned that you can’t do that as a little group of Saskatchewan bishops,” he said.
Bolen said right now the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has a “working group” on Indigenous relations and has arranged that a delegation of “Indigenous leaders and survivors and elders, knowledge keepers and youth will go to meet with Pope Francis before the end of the year.”
Call to Action 58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report reads in part: “We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”
Such an apology has not occurred, despite the federal government urging the Vatican to do so. Following the discovery of the unmarked, undocumented burial site at Kamloops Indian Residential School, Pope Francis made statements, issuing condolences, but stopped short of an apology.
“This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past. May the political and religious authorities in Canada continue to work together with determination to shed light on this sad event and humbly commit themselves to a path of healing and reconciliation,” said the Pope on June 6.
In the past, Pope Francis has apologized for the Church’s role in colonialism across the Americas but has not specifically apologized for its role in residential schools.
Bolen said Delorme and the First Nation have extended an invitation to the church to have a relationship that is “not based on a colonial model.”
That means adhering to the Calls to Action.
“The beauty of the Calls to Action is that they’re proposed by Indigenous people. Nine of those calls to action are addressed to Churches that were a part of residential schools.”