Statement from Concerned Canadian Catholics on the Discoveries in Kamloops

Statement from Concerned Canadian Catholics on the Discoveries in Kamloops

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Sam Bianco started this petition to Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and

Statement from Concerned Canadian Catholics on the Discoveries in Kamloops

"'Blessed are they who mourn....” Matthew 5:4

During their short lives on earth, they received little of the Kingdom of Heaven, the goods of the earth, small amounts of righteousness and fulfillment, more judgment than mercy, limited chances to see God and few occasions to be known as children of God.

And then there was more. We are especially sorrowful for the children who have been lost and their families’ sufferings. The final indignity . . . no one to mourn them and give comfort to their families. Jesus and his Beatitudes have been buried. We got lost in ideology, collaboration with official bureaucracy, ecclesial and government doublespeak. There were alternatives that we did not take or even imagine. We did not seek to collaborate with First Nations at the outset, but rather, made them adapt to our ways and standards. And we did so at huge cost to First Nations' people. The tragedy of First Nations' children and their families has piled up. It overwhelmed them and their families. It should overwhelm us too.

Some First Nations' children did receive help, support, and education. A number of those who served them, no doubt, gave generously from their hearts. But the appalling and overriding truth is that the sufferings, pain and loss far outweigh any possible good from of the Residential Schools' work to educate. The legacy is overwhelmingly negative and destructive. It must now be addressed openly, fully and without reservation.

We are a group of lay people and clergy who are deeply disappointed with our official church – hurt, ashamed and saddened at the discovery of the graves of 215 Indigenous children in Kamloops. We also understand there will be more discoveries in other locations. We are hurt by the Church we love and belong to because of its lack of action and apparent willingness to minimize and not fully assume responsibility for its and our role in one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history.

This is a time for a calling to accountability for all of us in the Catholic Church in Canada.

  1. In spite of individual apologies of diocese and religious communities, we need, as soon as possible, to make a full explicit and unequivocal apology as a Canadian Church to the First Nations' People. We need to give an account to the First Nations' People for our role as Catholics in the history of the Schools and make accessible all records of that history.
  2. We ask the Bishops of Canada to invite Pope Francis to come to Canada to make a public apology on behalf of the Church in Canada for our sins of commission and omission in the matter of Residential Schools (TRC 58). We understand it is up to Canadian bishops to extend this invitation to the Holy Father. We respectfully ask them to rise to this responsibility.
  3. We, as a Canadian Church, did not pay our full assessment of the original restitution settlement. It was estimated our remaining contribution would have been over $20 million dollars before an adjudication stipulated that one fifth of that amount could be considered “best efforts” on our part at meeting the requirement. We do not agree. All other Churches involved in administering Canadian Residential Schools met their obligations. For the Church, which claims to be founded by Jesus Christ, legal legerdemain must not outweigh clear moral responsibility.
  4. First Nations communities will now assume the lead role in addressing future steps with regard to the deceased children in Kamloops. Nevertheless, if acceptable to the First Nations involved, we think that the Church in Canada, as a collectivity, should offer to meet all the costs for a respectful reinternment of the deceased children’s bodies. This should be done in a manner consistent with First Nations’ spirituality and protocols. The cost for First Nations families to attend the burial ceremony should be borne by the Catholic Church.
  5. Immense harm has been done to First Nations' families. First Nations' people who are Catholics have been compromised. Many still want to be both Indigenous and Catholic. They need to hear from us. We need to support their efforts to remain genuine First Nations people and faithful Catholics. In the past we sought to teach First Nations people. Now is the time for them to teach us.

No human life is ever a waste. In the words of the late Cardinal Emmett Carter, "Every life is a gift from God beginning in the womb and enduring into eternity." Life on earth should reflect protection and respect for all life and lives. This is never more true than in the lives, history, suffering and joys and hopes of First Nations’ peoples.

We invite all Catholic people who are in sympathy with this statement to join with us and register their support. 

Signed,

Msgr. Sam Bianco, Toronto
Richard Alway, O.C., O.Ont, Toronto
Prof. Michael Attridge, Toronto
Prof. Dr. Jane Barter, Winnipeg 
Catherine Bellamy, Rome 
W. John Bennett, Montreal
Rev. Peter Bisson, SJ, Ottawa  
Madeleine Burke, Newmarket
Tony Comper, C.M., Toronto
Rev. Michel Cote, OP, Toronto  
Rev. Darren Dias, O.P., Toronto
Terence and Margaret Downey, Calgary
The Honourable Nicole C. Eaton, Toronto
Rev. Paul Hansen, CSsR, Toronto 
Dr. Michael Higgins, Vancouver
Rev. Robert Holmes, CSB, Toronto 
Dr. Doris M. Kieser, Edmonton
Brian and Kelly Kressler, Newmarket
Mary Jo Leddy, C.M., Toronto 
Prof. Dr. Reid Locklin, Toronto
Joe and Bob Martin, Beaverton
Prof. Dr. Mark McGowan Whitby
Joyce & Joe McGuire, Lindsay
Catherine Mulroney, Toronto
Prof. Dr. Nicholas Olkovich, Vancouver 
Rev. Bob Ouellette, Newmarket
Msgr. Moe Polito, Lindsay
Greg Rupik, Toronto
Prof. Dr. Stephanie Rutherford, Peterborough 
Prof. Dr. Jaroslav Skira, Mississauga 
Keith and Mary Ann Steer, Newmarket
David Sylvester, London
Dr. Agnes Thomas, Toronto,
Christine Way-Skinner, Newmarket
Prof. Dr. Mark Yenson, London 

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