So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Canadian Residential Schools: Trudeau, the Church and Chief Fontaine.

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2017/05/29/canadian-prime-minister-trudeau-says-he-asked-pope-to-apologise-for-residential-schools/
Prime Minister Trudeau, by promoting a culture of death by his support of abortion, euthanasia and the like, has made his position clear that he has little love and respect for the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Following in the footsteps of his father, Pierre Elliott, who systematically dismantled Canadian culture and laid the groundwork for further disintegration by promoting divorce and abortion, and sharing the company of other CINOs who have repeatedly traded their Catholicism for worldly approval and power, Justin Trudeau's motives for requesting an apology from the Holy Father for the historical sins of badly behaved individuals should be highly suspect. Trudeau has proven himself time and again an opportunist who puts politics ahead of the facts, feelings ahead of the Faith, Justin ahead of justice.

In case Prime Minister Trudeau missed the following publication by the CCCB:
Apology on Residential Schools by the Catholic Church

The Catholic community in Canada has a decentralized structure. Each Diocesan Bishop is autonomous in his diocese and, although relating to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, is not responsible to it.

Approximately 16 out of 70 Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former Indian Residential Schools (in other words, 54 dioceses (77% of all Catholic dioceses) had nothing to do with the then Federal Government's cultural imperialism project), in addition to about three dozen religious communities. Each diocese and religious community is legally responsible for its own actions. The Catholic Church as a whole was not associated with the Residential Schools, nor was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

These are the reasons why an apology on Residential Schools has not been made by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops or in the name of the Catholic Church in Canada.

However, in a brief submitted to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in November 1993, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops did acknowledge that "various types of abuse experienced at some residential schools have moved us to a profound examination of conscience as a Church."

Already in 1991, Canadian Catholic Bishops and leaders of men and women religious communities had issued a statement that "We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering and alienation that so many experienced" at the Residential Schools.

There have been, and continue to be, numerous initiatives by Catholic agencies and institutions in Canada to help heal the sufferings of the Aboriginal Peoples. The process of healing and reconciliation is ongoing.

Here are some of the apologies that have been made over the years by Catholic organizations in Canada.
  1. Statement by the National Meeting on Indian Residential Schools
  2. Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - March 13-15, 1991
  3. Extract of Let Justice flow like a Mighty River, Brief by the CCCB to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1995
  4. The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - An Apology to the First Nations of Canada by the Oblate Conference of Canada
  5. 24 July 1991
Not convinced?
(2015 National Post) Father Raymond J. de Souza: Should the Pope apologize … again?
http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/father-raymond-j-de-souza-should-the-pope-apologize-again
The release of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on the residential schools system spoke of the need to move from “apology to action.” Yet there was apparently some unfinished business on the apology front, as the TRC called upon the “the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children … to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.”

It is puzzling why the commissioners think an apology would be a good idea. Or, more precisely, why they think it would be a good idea again. 
On April 29, 2009 — before the TRC got going, it should be noted — Pope Benedict XVI met with a delegation of aboriginal Canadians he had invited to the Vatican at the request of the bishops of Canada. On the topic of residential schools, Benedict expressed “his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church and he offered his sympathy and prayerful solidarity,” according to the Vatican press summary of the meeting.

The delegation was led by national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Phil Fontaine, a former residential school student himself. Calling the meeting the historic “final piece” of the confession of sin by the various churches, he told CBC News that it should “close the book” on the issue of church apologies.

The TRC (and now Justin Trudeau) has decided to open the book again. It wouldn’t be difficult of course to have Pope Francis offer an apology. Indeed, papal apologies are not hard to come by at all. Luigi Accatoli, a long-time Vatican correspondent wrote a book in 1998 entitled, When a Pope Asks Forgiveness: The Mea Culpas of John Paul II. He counted 98 such requests for forgiveness, and that was more than 10 years before the Benedict-Fontaine summit. So another apology could certainly be routinely issued, but that is precisely the problem. If the 2009 meeting, carefully prepared as it was after much collaboration and consultation, didn’t mean what everyone thought it meant, then why would a repeat achieve anything significant? To the contrary, the repeat would seem perfunctory and given under pressure, and the sincerity of the original would be called into question. Reconciliation requires that apologies be offered. They also need to be accepted.

(Pay attention Justin!) To ignore the 2009 apology is a shame, for on that occasion Fontaine delivered a magnificent, moving and magnanimous address to the pope that stands as a model for thinking about the relationship of the Catholic Church to aboriginal Canadians
“The Catholic Church has always played a significant role in the history of our peoples. Priests and nuns were some of the first Europeans to arrive on our shores,” Fontaine began. “They acted as intermediaries in treaty negotiations and interpretation and often expressed their serious reservations about the federal government’s intentions in the implementation of the treaties. Many embraced our languages with enthusiasm, wrote them down and created dictionaries, bibles and books of prayers that we still use to this day. The Catholics recognized the deep spirituality of our peoples and introduced a faith to which many indigenous people devoutly adhere.”
“What brings us here today, however, was the failure those many years ago, by Canada and religious authorities, to recognize and respect those who did not wish to change — those who wished to be different,” he told Pope Benedict. “Those at the highest levels of authority in Canada came to believe that our indigenous cultures, languages and our ways of worship were not worth keeping and should be eradicated.… The Catholic Church entities thus became part of a tragic plan of assimilation that was not only doomed to fail but destined to leave a disastrous legacy in its wake.”
“We suffered needlessly and tragically. So much was lost for no good reason,” Fontaine continued. “The Catholic Church, too, was harmed by the residential school experience. Many good and decent men and women of faith were tainted and reviled because of the evil acts of some. The hundreds of years of good will and hard work by courageous and committed missionaries were undermined by the misguided policy Catholic priests and nuns found themselves enforcing. The reputation of the Catholic Church was impoverished. This, too, was tragic. But today is a new day. We are here at the Vatican in your presence Most Holy Father, to change this sad history.”
As for papal visits, which in the usual course of events are not demanded, Fontaine recalled at the Vatican the historic visit to Fort Simpson in 1987. In 1984, Pope John Paul II’s planned visit was not possible due to bad weather. He said he would return. He did.
“We will never forget the visit of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, when he came to the Canadian North to visit our people, after bad weather prevented his first attempt,” Fontaine said to Benedict. “He celebrated Mass in our house — a giant teepee — and he prayed with the scent of sweet grass and the sound of beating drums in the air. The reverence and respect he showed for our culture gave us the hope and strength we needed to pursue our goals, including those that have brought us here today.”
The papal encounters of 1987 and 2009, one in Canada and one in Rome, were truly historic. In the service of both truth and reconciliation, they should not be forgotten.
As a person of mixed blood, including proud Aboriginal, African-American and Caucasian heritages, and possessing some direct knowledge of the stories being told through conversations with family members, teachers and aboriginal elders, this blogger certainly has a different perspective than what some of the opportunists and media sharks have on the subject of residential schools.

Catholic education has a proud history in Canada. Wrongs have been acknowledged. To this blogger's recollection, no Catholic has excused the horrific abuse suffered by aboriginal children at the hands of monsters nor dismissed the social problems caused by ignorant individuals complicit with a wrong-headed government policy. No one has said the damage to language and culture caused by government required programs is excusable, least of all the Catholic Church which, as the historical record can confirm and contrary to anti-Catholic media bias, has done more than most to defend aboriginal culture(s). Catholics, the failings of a few notwithstanding, have been at the forefront of the defence of aboriginal peoples in Canada. If the obvious must be stated, then so be it: Catholic aboriginals are Catholic! We are brothers and sisters. If one suffers, we all suffer.

As Chief Fontaine said in 1987 in Rome:
“What brings us here today, however, was the failure those many years ago, by Canada and religious authorities, to recognize and respect those who did not wish to change — those who wished to be different,” he told Pope Benedict. “Those at the highest levels of authority in Canada came to believe that our indigenous cultures, languages and our ways of worship were not worth keeping and should be eradicated.… The Catholic Church entities thus became part of a tragic plan of assimilation that was not only doomed to fail but destined to leave a disastrous legacy in its wake.”
“We suffered needlessly and tragically. So much was lost for no good reason,” Fontaine continued. “The Catholic Church, too, was harmed by the residential school experience. Many good and decent men and women of faith were tainted and reviled because of the evil acts of some. The hundreds of years of good will and hard work by courageous and committed missionaries were undermined by the misguided policy Catholic priests and nuns found themselves enforcing. The reputation of the Catholic Church was impoverished. This, too, was tragic. But today is a new day. We are here at the Vatican in your presence Most Holy Father, to change this sad history.”
Perhaps Justin Trudeau will reflect further on Chief Fontaine's words:
"But today is a new day. We are here at the Vatican in your presence Most Holy Father, to change this sad history.”
Frankly, we do not need another misguided (faithless) Catholic attempting to preach to indigenous peoples harmed by badly behaved Catholics, a prime minister who by picking up the torch of political correctness merely patronizes, pays lip service to serious matters and burns wounds deeper only to score points. 

Justin-the-Shirtless is not likely to be known for being on the right side of history. Instead, he should take a cue from Chief Fontaine's eloquent witness to the truth. Which is to say, Prime Minister Trudeau should let what has been said be heard. He should not have appropriated part of a meeting with Pope Francis to pretend he's merely after an apology.

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