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June 2021 memorial around Centennial Flame at Parliament Hill for the children 'found' at Kamloops Residential School, BC.Bing Wen/Shutterstock

VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) – Pope Francis will meet delegations of Canada’s indigenous peoples in the Vatican next week as a result of the public outcry against the Catholic Church after the much-hyped 2021 allegations of “mass graves” at a residential school in Kamloops. 

On March 23, the Holy See Press Office announced the meeting between Pope Francis and the delegations, with the brief note reading:

“On March 28 and 31, Pope Francis will meet individually with delegations of Canadian indigenous peoples, accompanied by their Bishops, to listen to their testimonies. On April 1, an Audience will take place in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, with the joint participation of the various delegations and the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, during which the Pope will have the opportunity to address them.”

Vatican News subsequently reported that on March 28 Pope Francis will meet the delegations of Métis and Inuit peoples on March 28, while meeting the delegation from the First Nations delegation March 31.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) first announced the meeting with the Pontiff in November 2021, stating that it would be comprised of “25-30 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth.” They soon rescheduled their visit to the Vatican, after announcing in December 2021 that it would be delayed due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The visit comes in light of the May 2021 reported discovery of “215 unmarked child graves” at Kamloops Residential School – run by the Catholic Church – which resulted in calls for accountability and desires for amends to be made by the Church coming from all levels of society. Accusations of murder and genocide have been levied against the Church since the discovery and a series of church burnings began across Canada in an apparent attack on the Catholic Church.

“The Catholic Bishops of Canada are profoundly saddened by the residential school legacy and remain fully committed to working with Indigenous Peoples and communities across the country to support healing and reconciliation,” reads the CCCB’s press release about the visit.

“We also sorrowfully acknowledge the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day.”

“The journey towards healing and reconciliation is a long one, but we believe this will be a significant milestone in the Catholic Church’s commitment to renewing, strengthening and reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land,” said CCCB President, the Most Rev. Raymond Poisson, in November.

“With this delegation, we hope to walk together in a new way, to listen with humility, and to discern the next steps that the Church can take to support residential school survivors, their families, and their communities,” he added.

All “travel and hospitality costs for the delegation will be covered” are being covered by the CCCB, and additionally “[m]ental health workers will travel with the group, in recognition of the painful sentiments that may be experienced by many delegates.”

Delegation prompted by anti-Catholic rhetoric following Kamloops’ ‘mass grave’ reports

Pro-abortion Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also slammed the Catholic Church for its role in Kamloops and the wider school system: “Make it clear that we expect the Church to step up and take responsibility for its role in this and be there to help in the grieving and the healing, including with records that is necessary. It’s something we are all still waiting for the Catholic Church to do.”

Yet since the reported discovery of the graves, evidence has continued to emerge which undermines the mainstream narrative of a Church which secretly buried children. Kamloops itself was financed by the state, and historic reports noted how the Canadian government ignored reports from 1907 that the schools were in “prime conditions” for the “outbreak of epidemics.”

More recent investigations from January 2022, found that despite the allegations of “physical genocide” on the part of the Church, no graves have actually been found.

However, despite the lack of evidence over the existence of the “mass grave,” Canadian Catholic prelates swiftly complied with mainstream media pressure to issue public statements of apology.

The CCCB issued a statement, writing to “pledge to continue walking side by side with Indigenous Peoples in the present, seeking greater healing and reconciliation for the future.” Another statement from the CCCB followed in September 2021, in which they wrote:

“We acknowledge the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual. We also sorrowfully acknowledge the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day.”

Pope Francis also gave a public comment at the Sunday Angelus in June 2021, saying he “joins the Canadian Bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing his closeness to the Canadian people, who have been traumatised by the shocking news.”

Despite the lack of evidence supporting his attack on the Catholic Church, which “helped spark a fiery hatred for Catholics and the Catholic Church that spread across Canada,” Trudeau has not apologized for his criticism of the Church.

Further details about the facts behind the reported “mass graves” in Kamloops continue to emerge. However, Jacques Rouillard – professor emeritus in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal – wrote in January:

“It is hard to believe that a preliminary search for an alleged cemetery or mass grave in an apple orchard on reserve land near the residential school of Kamloops could have led to such a spiral of claims endorsed by the Canadian government and repeated by mass media all over the world. It gives a terrible and simplistic impression of complex issues in Canadian history.”

In June of last year, LifeSiteNews spoke with well-known Canadian Catholic author Michael O’Brien, who spent three years in one of the residential schools himself, who cautioned against using the recent news as a launchpad from which to attack the Catholic Church. O’Brien, who later gave testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission during the many hearings conducted in order to draw up the final report, revealed that he had indeed witnessed abuse while at the school, although from lay employees in the schools, and not from the clergy or religious sisters.

He pointed also to the chief underlying issue of the institutional abuse of children being removed from their families by the state authorities, and then taken to the schools, noting the “long-term psychological and social effects of this.”

But in the specific case of the Kamloops school, he re-issued the call for caution. “Where are the known facts to date?” he asked. “At this point there is only innuendo and insinuation.”


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