Published: Tue, May 30, 2017
Medical | By Ismael Lynch

Trudeau asks Pope to apologize for residential schools


(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday met with the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, in a private audience in the Vatican.

Mr. Trudeau said he thanked the Pope for his global leadership on the environment during their private discussions in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

Following his visit to Vatican City, Trudeau says Pope Francis looked forward to working with the prime minister and the Canadian bishops on finding a way forward.

The commission included the demand for a papal apology - to survivors, their families and communities - as one of the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark history and legacy of residential schools.

Pope Benedict formally apologized in 2009 for the Church's complicity in residential schools in a meeting with Phil Fontaine, then National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, and other Native leaders, who met with the Pope in the Vatican.

"He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world", Trudeau told reporters.

"T$3 he good bilateral relations between the Holy See and Canada were evoked, along with the contribution of the Catholic Church to the social life of the country". The body had recommended that the Pope apologise on Canadian soil for the Church's involvement in the treatment of Canadian Aboriginal children who were subjected to physical violence, derogatory language, neglect and meagre food within a church - and later government - run residential school system.

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Prime Minster Trudeau had also let it be known to journalists that he would extend an invitation to Francis to visit Canada.

At the end of their meeting today, the Pope handed the 40-year-old Trudeau a medallion marking the fourth anniversary of his pontificate, titled "un abbraccio" - meaning an embrace - and which symbolises joy, forgiveness and mutual acceptance.

"We talked about how important it is to both highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet, with the moral and ethical obligation to lead and to build a better future for all people on this earth", he said. A visit, however, would require input from the whole Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in dialogue with the Vatican.

A spokesperson said Trudeau had a private drink with former prime minister Matteo Renzi on Monday evening.

Trudeau, who is Catholic, says he gave the Pope a set of rare Jesuit Relations books, as well as a Montagnais-French dictionary penned by a 17th-century French Jesuit.

Along with the three customary documents, the Pope also gave the prime minister a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, which he signed, just like the one he gave to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting last week.

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