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Canada Asked The Pope For An Official Apology Over The Catholic Church's Role In Residential Schools

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission demanded a papal apology.

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Pope Francis has told Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that he's open to issuing an official Papal apology for the Catholic church's role in Canada's residential schools system.

Ettore Ferrari / AP

Trudeau met with the Pope during a visit to the Vatican on Monday.

“I told him about how important it is for Canadians that we move forward on real reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology,” Mr. Trudeau later told reporters, according to the Globe and Mail.

“He reminded me his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world and fighting for them and he looked forward to working with me and the Canadian bishops to figure out a path forward together.”

Starting in the late 19th century, about 150,000 Indigenous children in Canada were forced into church-run schools where physical, sexual, and emotional abuse was rife. An estimated 6,000 children died while at these state-sanctioned institutions.

Ho / The Canadian Press

Many residential schools were run by Catholic churches, although other religious denominations also had a role.

The Canadian government issued its own official apology in 2008.

In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which studied the trauma of residential schools, called for a Papal apology similar to the one issued in 2010 for Irish victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The report called for the Pope to issue the apology in Canada. The Pope's travel schedule for the rest of 2017 does not include a visit to the country, but Trudeau said he had invited the Pope to visit.

Ishmael Daro is a social news editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Toronto.

Contact Ishmael N. Daro at

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