This morning, the Pope apologized for abuses against Indigenous children at Catholic residential schools. For decades survivors, advocates, and communities have been asking for the Catholic Church’s apology.

Though she is on sabbatical, Executive Director the Rev. Dr. Carmen Lansdowne shared a statement:

“The Pope’s apology this morning is an important first step towards completion of the TRC’s Call to Action #58 which calls specifically on the Pope, as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, to apologize, and to apologize in Canada. While it was unexpected to hear the words “I’m sorry” from His Holiness this morning, my hope is that it is an indication that when the Pope visits Canada later this year, that he make a formal apology on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church to survivors. The apology needs to not just be about the actions of the priests, nuns, and other staff of Catholic residential schools, but for the systemic design and generational legacies of the school as a tool of colonization, oppression and cultural genocide. Then the apology needs to be backed up with tangible amends, like making whole on the financial reparations and release of all the archival documents set out in the Settlement Agreements.”

As part of the United Church of Canada, as an Indigenous-led organization that serves people who have suffered abuse because of colonization, residential schools, and racism, and as an organization committed to the pursuit of justice, we see this as a long-overdue but important recognition. We hope that leaders in the Catholic Church and throughout all communities of faith continue to take accountability and commit to truth-listening and reconciliation.

For more of FIRST UNITED’s work on faith and reconciliation visit our Ministry Resources and our Reconciliation in Action Resources.