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Pope apologizes for school abuses in Canada

Pope Francis has apologized for the Catholic Church’s cooperation with Canada’s “devastating” policy of Indigenous residential schools, saying the forced assimilation of Native peoples into Christian society destroyed their cultures, severed their families, and marginalized generations in ways still being felt today.

The long-awaited apology opened Pope Francis’s “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, which is meant to help the church on its path of reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, now largely torn down, on lands of four Cree nations south of Edmonton, Alberta.

Francis’ words on Monday went beyond his earlier apology for the “deplorable” acts of missionaries and instead took responsibility for the church’s institutional cooperation with the “catastrophic” assimilation policy, which Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has said amounted to a “cultural genocide.”

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