Organizers of the papal visit say the Vatican has “clarified” part of Pope Francis’ apology to residential school survivors, noting that an error occurred during translation.
The pontiff’s words near Edmonton this week raised questions when he said an important part of overcoming the pardon request “will be to conduct a serious investigation into the facts of what happened.”
Francis, born in Argentina, spoke Spanish and the apology was being translated into English.
Organizers of the papal visit said in a statement that the Vatican had ‘clarified’ that the English translation should have meant that survivors had heard the pope say that what was needed next was ‘serious research’, not a “serious investigation”.
“In listening to what the Holy Father said, he communicated his deep desire that the Catholic community continue to take steps towards the transparent search for truth and to foster healing and reconciliation,” the organizers’ statement said.
They say Canadian bishops have also pledged to hand over documents that could help communities identify the remains of Indigenous children who would be buried in unmarked graves at former school sites.
The desire to see records related to residential schools held in the Vatican and other Catholic entities is among the outstanding demands Pope Francis faces during his tour of Canada.
Yellowhead Institute executive director Hayden King, who is Anishinaabe from Beausoleil First Nation in Ontario, said his immediate reaction to the pontiff mentioning the need for a search or investigation was that the Vatican was only doing begin to understand the harm that had been done.
“We’ve been going through this…since before Confederation,” he said.
“It’s not necessarily the case that we’re looking for another investigation.”
King said that while the pope was discussing the need for fact-finding, the Catholic Church had “thousands” of pages of documents naming clergy who abused Indigenous children forced to attend residential schools.
“Everyone is looking for something much more than…” We’ll go away and figure out what happened, and we’ll get back to you. “”
At the same time, King said if an investigation or search led to the release of more church-held documents, that would help.
The National Center for Truth and Reconciliation, which collects residential school records, said in a statement that the Catholic Church must collaborate “to demonstrate accountability.”
Canada has previously investigated the system through a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that operated from 2008 to 2015.
He heard from nearly 7,000 survivors and their families about what happened in the institutions and recounted how thousands of children suffered abuse, neglect and malnutrition.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 28, 2022.
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