Pope Apologizes Over Canada Deaths

Pope Francis delivers his speech as he meets the indigenous communities, including First Nations, Metis and Inuit, at Our Lady of Seven Sorrows Catholic Church in Maskwacis, near Edmonton, Canada, Monday, July 25, 2022. Pope Francis begins a "penitential" visit to Canada to beg forgiveness from survivors of the country's residential schools, where Catholic missionaries contributed to the "cultural genocide" of generations of Indigenous children by trying to stamp out their languages, cultures and traditions. Francis set to visit the cemetery at the former residential school in Maskwacis. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Years after a Canadian-government-funded commission issued findings detailing a history of physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous children in the country’s Catholic-run residential schools, Pope Francis on Monday issued an apology on Canadian soil.

“I am sorry,” the pope said, speaking in Maskwacis, Alberta, at the lands of four Cree nations.

“I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,” Francis said near the site of the former Ermineskin Indian Residential School, where ground-penetrating radar has been used to try to locate unmarked graves of students who died while attending the school.

The residential schools forcibly separated Indigenous children from their parents as part of an effort to convert them to Christianity and assimilate them into the wider Canadian culture. In total, 150,000 children from Canada’s First Nations tribes were placed in 139 schools run under government contract — most by the Catholic Church — over a 150-year period.