Pope Says Christian Boarding Schools Encouraged Genocide of Indigenous Children in Canada

Pope Says Christian Boarding Schools Encouraged Genocide of Indigenous Children in Canada

Pope Francis on Saturday called “genocide” what was happening at boarding schools run by the Catholic Church and other Christian churches in Canada to forcibly assimilate indigenous children.

Between 1881 and 1996, more than 150,000 indigenous children were separated from their families and placed in these facilities. Many children were starved, beaten and sexually abused in a system that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called “cultural genocide.”

The schools were run by religious groups, mostly Catholic priests and nuns.

  • I may consider resigning, but not now, says Pope Francis

The pope made the remark as he flew back to Rome after a weeklong trip to Canada, where he historically apologized for the church’s role in politics.

He was asked by an Indigenous Canadian reporter on the plane why he did not use the word genocide during the trip and whether he would acknowledge that members of the Church were involved in the genocide.

“It’s true that I didn’t use the word because I didn’t think about it. But I described genocide. I apologized, I asked forgiveness for this activity, which was genocidal,” Francis said.

“I condemned that: taking children away and trying to change their culture, their thinking, their traditions, a race, a whole culture,” the pope added.

Last Monday, Francis visited the town of Maskwacis, site of two former boarding schools, where he apologized and called the forced assimilation “evil” and a “catastrophic mistake”.

The pope also apologized for Christian support for the “colonization mentality” of the time.