LETTER: Canada’s Indigenous communities need an apology from the Catholic Church during the Pope’s next visit
It seems that Pope Francis recognizes that he cannot postpone his visit to Canada any longer. The harm done to Indigenous children by Catholic clerics and teachers must be recognized and responsibility must be accepted. Everything that can be done to atone for this crime should be done.
Catholics, even those who are no longer practicing, are familiar with the pattern: sin – regret – confession – retribution – forgiveness. Francis will be well aware that anything less would be an insult to First Nations.
I have some sympathy for Pope Francis, who has been fighting from the beginning to reform the Vatican. Traditionally, the reverend gentlemen who run the Vatican have specialized in slowing the pace of change. It has been said that if you ask a Vatican Cardinal to do anything, his answer will be “Wait a century or two, and we will give it our immediate attention.” This may be an exaggeration, but only a very slight one.
It has been said that if you ask a cardinal in the Vatican to do something, anything, his answer will be “Wait a century or two, and we will give it our attention”.
If there is anything in Catholicism that leads to racist behavior towards native children, Francis will try to change that mindset. In the thousands of Vatican committees and commissions, there are bishops and cardinals who prefer to sweep issues (like clerical pedophilia) under the rug, but he pushes them to face the real issues. One of his priorities, along with chaotic Vatican finances, is the global Catholic clergy sexual assault scandal. I think Francis is discovering how little power a pope really has.
The Pope knows that his presence here is necessary. He is personally deeply offended by the behavior of several of his priests, and he wants to put an end to it, but that is not the job of one man. He’ll do what he can, but I suspect it won’t be enough. Wherever Catholicism exists, there are bishops and cardinals who prefer to cover up clerical sex crimes and piously pretend that “it doesn’t happen here.”
I wish him good luck. I join him in apologizing. I will contribute what I can in return. I’ll say a prayer for him, but I doubt he alone can cure clerical pedophilia, or even convince his bishops to hand over pedophile clergymen to the police. It will take time to restore our trust in our Catholic clergy, but the sooner we start, the sooner we will regain some of our trust.
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