Suspend the Canadian Catholic Church’s Charitable Status over Residential Schools

Suspend the Canadian Catholic Church’s Charitable Status over Residential Schools

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We are asking the Canadian Government to hold the Canadian Catholic Church accountable for Residential School abuses and ongoing lack of cooperation and reparations by immediately suspending, for at least 1 year, the charitable status of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the 308 Roman Catholic charities. This suspension would be lifted when the Catholic Church in Canada and in Rome issue a sincere and full apology, fully cooperate with making all Residential School records available and at a minimum pay reparations that were promised years ago, and ideally more. This is not a criticism of individual Roman Catholic faithful but a demand for accountability from powerful institutions.

Millions of Canadians feel deep sorrow about the continuing pain and trauma that the Indian Residential School System continues to bring to Indigenous survivors, their families and communities today, and want to support healing and reparation. Over 150,000 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit children were forcibly taken – stolen – from their families to attend boarding schools, where many were subjected to appalling physical, psychological and sexual abuse. Tragically, according to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), at least 4,000 children died that were recorded and several thousand more deaths are estimated.

Various Canadian governments and other religious organizations complicit in the IRIS have issued formal apologies, started to pay reparations to survivors of Residential Schools and make their records available. The exception is the Catholic Church, where neither the Vatican or the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops have made sincere apologies, shared documents fully nor paid adequate reparations despite the Catholic Church’s primary role in operating more than two-thirds of the Residential Schools. Instead, the various arms of the Catholic Church continue to avoid accountability by publicly stating that some other part of the Church is responsible for an apology and reparations, and by withholding key documents.

However, these same “it’s not our problem” Catholic entities continue to take advantage of their tax-free charitable status as part of the larger Roman Catholic Church, and to have all Canadians subsidize them.

Many Canadians are outraged that not only is a supposedly charitable organization’s lack of accountability willingly and knowingly continuing to cause so much sorrow and suffering, they are also deeply disturbed that Canadian taxpayers continue to subsidize this willful lack of accountability.

The Roman Catholic Church is one of the wealthiest institutions in the world, conservatively estimated at having assets of hundreds of billions of dollars. The Catholic Church agreed in 2007 to pay $25-million as part of the residential-schools settlement for survivors’ healing and reconciliation programs; 14 years later they have paid just $3.7-million and yet each year the Catholic Church receives tax-free donations of vastly more money than that. This is unconscionable.

That’s why we are asking Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Honorable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue and Honorable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services to immediately suspend the charitable status of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the 308 Roman Catholic charities. This suspension would remain in place until the Church can demonstrate it has made adequate and sincere apologies, documents available and reparations are paid. This may sound drastic. However, a charity can have its tax-free status suspended if it is late or inaccurate in filing its annual return, or if it is deemed to be acting outside the definition of “charity”. And yet, an organization can continue to avoid accountability for what the TRC calls “cultural genocide”, legally operate as a charity and be subsidized by us all. Canadians do not accept this.

Suspension of charitable status will send a clear message and provide the Catholic Church time to reflect on what it means to be charitable, to issue a sincere and full apology, to fully cooperate with making all Residential School records available and at a minimum pay reparations that were promised years ago, and ideally more.

Please share this petition on all your social media feeds and with friends and colleagues. It is time to heal and move forward, for us all.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 35,000!
At 35,000 signatures, this petition becomes one of the top signed on Change.org!