Vatican City, May 29, 2017 / 09:40 am
Pope Francis met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a private audience which focused on religious freedom as well as reconciliation with native people of Canada.
According to a brief May 29 communique from the Vatican, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Trudeau conversed on the topics of integration and reconciliation with indigenous people, as well as religious liberty and current ethical issues.
In their 36-minute meeting which the Vatican described as “cordial,” they touched on the positive bilateral relations between the Holy See and Canada, “along with the contribution of the Catholic Church to the social life of the country.”
Afterward “in the light of the results of the recent G7 summit, attention turned to various matters of an international nature, with special attention to the Middle East and areas of conflict,” the communique stated.
During the visit, Trudeau extended an invitation to Pope Francis to visit the country of Canada, during which time he could bring the Church’s apology for harm done to indigenous people in Canada in the mid-19th through 20th centuries when 150,000 children from native tribes were forced to undergo “enculturation” to the state through attendance at residential schools.
Some 6,000 children died in the schools and though they were state-owned, a number were managed by Catholics. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which ran from 2008-2015, called for action on 94 points, one of which was an apology from the Catholic Church.
In 2009, Benedict XVI did apologize for the Church’s participation in the system during a meeting with the head of the Canadian National Assembly, Phil Fontaine, showing “his pain and anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church,” adding that “acts of abuse can never be tolerated by society.”