An apology is just words.

Pope Francis is in Canada this week to apologize to Indigenous peoples for abuses by missionaries at residential schools, a step in the Catholic Church’s efforts to reconcile with Native communities and help them heal from generations of trauma.

Is a person better than the worst thing they ever did? How about an institution? I think it depends on how bad the “worst” was, not on all the other “good” things you pile on the other end of the scale.

Oh, and this:

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 had called for a papal apology to be delivered on Canadian soil, but it was only after the 2021 discovery of the possible remains of around 200 children at the former Kamloops residential school in British Columbia that the Vatican mobilized to comply with the request.

“I honestly believe that if it wasn’t for the discovery … and all the spotlight that was placed on the Oblates or the Catholic Church as well, I don’t think any of this would have happened,” said Raymond Frogner, head archivist at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

The Rev. Joannes Rivoire should be extradited from France, where he is avoiding a 1998 warrant for sex offenses committed committed while he “ministered” to Inuit communities. The priest has not had to answer for his crimes. Maybe the Pope could help Rivoire make this “pilgrimage.” An apology backed up with action.

7 thoughts on “An apology is just words.”

  1. From his apology speech: ‘ I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous Peoples. I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the church and of religious communities co-operated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.’

    Apparently the cultural genocide of Indigenous people was all down to individual misguided Christians and ‘the government,’ The Pope never acknowledges that it was the Catholic Church that set out these policies, exercised undo influence on the government, funded the schools, approved the policies and the cultures of the schools, covered for the priests and nuns who abused and even killed children, and never delivered on past promises to provide restitution to Indigenous communities.

    You’re right (per usual), Cathy. It’s ‘just words’—empty rhetoric.

    1. Mary, just this morning I read a description of the most violent sexual abuse committed on a child by Fr. Robert Burkholder, deceased, Detroit Archdiocese, and his partner, convicted pedophile Arch Sloan. The victim contacted the Diocese, who of course did nothing but pass the information on to Wayne County (amazing that even happened). The Diocese was aware of at least 40 victims of Burkholder dating back decades. I am convinced that this institution, the Catholic church, should be bankrupted once and for all and should be forced to pay massive settlements, not just the paltry sums, accompanied by nondisclosure agreements, they have paid out to the few victims who had attorneys and the wherewithal to do battle with the Catholic church and its evil army of twisted attorneys and cybersecurity firms. Apology? Means nothing.

      1. Outrageous, Cathy, but not surprising. The Bishops’ Accountability database describes Burkholder as the “most prolific pedophile priest in Michigan,” so you can safely add another “0” to the 40 known victims the Diocese reported.
        I could not agree more that the Catholic Church must face its own day of reckoning. Of course, that will never happen, so for the time being we’ll be treated to more virtue-signaling and apology tours, and more blame placed on individuals who, somewhat ironically, will be protected by the very Church that blames them for the fine mess it’s in.
        I’m going to keep making noise about it. I hope lots of us do. After all, the patriarchy isn’t going to smash itself!

  2. A widely circulating news-photo of Pope Francis kissing the hand of the Canadian indigenous residential-school survivor, assuming it was a genuinely heartfelt act, was both moving and significant, at least to me.

    Though I’m not a fan of Catholicism nor the pope, the image somewhat brought to mind how the Biblical Jesus most profoundly washed his disciples’ feet, the act clearly revealing that he took corporeal form to serve. And that he, as a hopeful example of the humility of the divine, joined humankind in our miseries, joys and everything in between.

    Regardless, many indigenous people have learned the hardest way about being considered disposable and likely feel the pope’s hand-kiss definitely will not suffice.

    Human beings can be consciously/subconsciously (mis)perceived and (mis)treated as though they are disposable and, by extension, their suffering and death are somehow less worthy of external concern, even by otherwise relatively civilized countries and their religious institutions.

    Along with the inhuman(e) treatment they suffered while living in the religious residential schools, the immense inhumanity is also evident with the many indigenous children who were deemed unworthy even to be buried in properly marked graves by Christ’s supposed messengers, let alone their remains returned to their indigenous families. …

    Am I the only person picturing Jesus spinning due to that fact?

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