American Indian Council
Francis Apologizes to Indigenous Peoples for ‘Grave Sins’ of Colonialism
Indian Country Times Media Network Staff
In a landmark speech, Pope Francis apologized on Thursday for the “grave sins”
of colonialism against Indigenous Peoples of America in a speech to grassroots
groups in Bolivia.
“Some may rightly say, ‘When the pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks
certain actions of the church,’ ” the Pope said, according to The New York
Times. “I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against
the Native people of America in the name of God.”
He didn’t stop there.
“I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church herself, but
also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called
conquest of America,” The New York Times reported.
He spoke to a crowd of more than 1,500 at the World Meeting of Popular
Movements, standing side-by-side with Bolivian President Evo Morales, the Andean
nation’s first indigenous president.
Although Latin American church leaders have issued apologies in the past, this
one went further and was much more targeted, the Associated Press reported.
Previous apologies had not been directed at Indigenous Peoples of the Americas,
The Catholic Church was one of many Christian denominations that ran boarding
schools in Canada and the U.S. designed to “kill the Indian in the child” by
taking kids from their families, cutting them off from their culture and
educating them in the ways of the European-minded settlers. The Canadian Truth
and Reconciliation Commission on June 2 came out with a report calling such
practices “cultural genocide” and recommending that Prime Minister Stephen
Harper ask the Pope for an apology. Though Harper met with Pope Francis and
mentioned the report, he did not specifically request the apology, and the
Pontiff’s words in Bolivia did not reference the TRC document.
Many have called for him to outright rescind the Doctrine of Discovery, which
paved the way for centuries of oppression against Indigenous Peoples.
Nuns Urge Pope to Rescind Doctrine of Discovery
The Pontiff is touring South America for eight days, with stops in Ecuador,
Bolivia and Paraguay. He has come out strongly against the environmental ravages
and social injustice of climate change, and in Thursday’s speech he continued in
that vein, by calling leaders who do not defend Mother Earth “cowards.” He also
said they are committing “a grave sin,” AP said.
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