Pope Francis made mention of the discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous students found in a mass grave at a church-run boarding school in Kamloops, British Columbia, but speaking to the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday, he did not offer an apology that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was seeking.
Francis expressed sorrow and called on political and church authorities to work together to shed light on what he called “this sad affair” and to foster healing.
“I follow with sorrow the news that arrives from Canada about the upsetting discovery of the remains of 215 children,” Francis said his remarks.
“I join with the Catholic church in Canada in expressing closeness to the Canadian people traumatized by the shocking news,” he added. “This sad discovery increases the awareness of the sorrows and sufferings of the past.”
On Friday, the PM tore a strip off the church for being “silent” and not “stepping up” and taking responsibility for its role in Canada’s former system of church-run Indigenous schools, many of them run by Catholic missionary congregations.
The school in Kamloops was operated by the Catholic church between 1890 and 1969.
Church officials have so far resisted making public the records related to the school, and Trudeau hinted at legal action
“As a Catholic, I am deeply disappointed by the decision that the Catholic Church has taken now and over the past many years,” the prime minister said during a news conference on Friday.
The discovery of the remains of the 215 children has sparked an outcry across the country with many impromptu memorials being established in cities and towns.
Earlier this week in Barrie, rows and rows of mostly children’s shoes were laid on the steps of the Spirit Catcher at the city’s waterfront.