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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at an event that included Pope Francis.YouTube

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QUEBEC CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Speaking in front of Pope Francis, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau levied blame at the “Roman Catholic Church as an institution” for the wrongdoings perpetrated at residential schools while leaving out the fact that the system itself was created and made mandatory by the Canadian government.

“When I talk to survivors [of the residential school system] and their families, I think of the children, and I think of the parents … ,” Trudeau said at the Citadelle of Quebec on Wednesday, where he was speaking alongside Pope Francis and Gov. General Mary Simon. 

“As a dad, I can’t imagine my kids being taken away. When my kids are crying, I can console them, when they are happy, I can share that feeling of joy with them, of accomplishment. But in residential schools, these children were alone, isolated … even worse, stripped of their language, their culture, their identity,” the prime minister added.

Continuing, Trudeau said that “Since the 2015 release of the Truth and Reconciliation’s final report, the First Nations, the Inuit and the Metis have been calling on the Pope to apologize to survivors, to their families and to communities,” specifically, “To apologize for the role that the Roman Catholic Church, as an institution, played in the abuse [of children] … [in] church-run residential schools.”

As reported by LifeSiteNews, while it is true that Aboriginal children were unjustly removed from the care of their parents and forced to enter the residential school system, where there have been reported instances of all forms of abuse, it was the Canadian government, not the Catholic Church, who in 1883 under the newly established Indian Affairs Department,  took control of the original Aboriginal schools, often run by Jesuit missionaries, to create the larger institutions known as the “residential school system.”

Catholic author Michael O’Brien, who attended residential schools and gave testimony to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, previously told LifeSiteNews that the chief underlying issue in the residential school saga was the institutional abuse of children by removing them from their families by the state authorities, and then taken to the schools, noting the “long-term psychological and social effects of this.” 

It was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police acting under the Canadian government, not the Catholic Church, which forcibly removed Indigenous children from their parents’ homes to attend the schools. The RCMP also served as truant officers, hunting down children who ran away from the schools and returning them to the government-run institutions.   

While some of the schools were run by members of Catholic religious orders, it was the Canadian government that funded them. Records show the schools were severely underfunded, meaning that children did not receive sufficient medical care.  

In 1907, the Canadian government even ignored a warning from the Canadian Medical Inspector, Dr. Peter Bryce, who said the schools had “prime conditions” for creating an “outbreak of epidemics.”

As a result of the government negligence, children suffered from excessively high rates of tuberculosis, which led to higher than average child mortality rates.

While Trudeau and the Canadian government seem to be placing the blame almost exclusively on the Catholic Church, Trudeau’s own father, former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, reigned during the residential school era and was a co-author of the highly controversial, “Statement of the Government of Canada on Indian Policy,” colloquially known as the 1969 White Paper, which sought to use the government to complete the assimilation of all Aboriginals and eliminate the special “reserve status” for their designated lands.