Papal apology comes on a day full of emotions

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A red memorial banner inscribed with 4120 names of many of the children who never came home from all residential schools across Canada is carried at a meeting with Pope Francis at Maskwacis, Alberta, July 25, 2022. [Photo by Michael Swan]

By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

MASKWACIS, Alta – The words “I am sorry” are powerful. For Tammy Ward of the Samson First Nation, those words from Pope Francis brought tears as she listened on the Maskawacis powwow grounds.

“It’s just very powerful,” Ward told The Catholic Register after Pope Francis finished delivering his historic apology to Indigenous people on Indigenous land for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools and other wrongs done on its behalf. “For me, it’s the healing.”

Ward leaned into her 21-year-old daughter Aleea Foureyes for comfort as Pope Francis confessed the sins Catholics committed against Indigenous Canadians in residential schools.

“In the face of this deplorable evil, the Church kneels before God and implores His forgiveness for the sins of her children,” Pope Francis said, invoking St Pope John Paul II’s 1998 bull, Incarnationis Mysterium. “I myself wish to reaffirm this, with shame and unambiguously. I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples.”

The Pope delivered his apology on the treaty land of the Ermineskin and Samson Cree Nations, the Louis Bull Tribe and the Montana First Nation, as part of his “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. The site was near one of Canada’s largest residential schools.

For 49-year-old Ward it brought memories flooding back of her relationship with her parents.

“I always thought my parents didn’t love me. I was always wondering why they were silent,” she said.

Years later she understood how a childhood spent institutionalized in residential schools had left her parents unprepared for family life.

Read the full story here.

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