Yes! An apology

The pope has travelled to Canada and to lift a few sentences from

In his first public remarks in Canada, Pope Francis has asked indigenous residential school survivors for forgiveness.
“I am deeply sorry,” the Pope said on the grounds of a former residential school in Maskwacis, near Edmonton.
He said his apology is a first step, and that a “serious investigation” into abuses must occur to foster healing.
The pontiff is in Canada to apologise for the Church’s role in schools meant to assimilate indigenous children.

A start.

And that is what apology from the heart does, and when it comes from someone / a group who are in relationship to the original perpetrators it is so powerful. This, I know, is not the first work done on apologies into the first nations people of Canada (who of course do not recognise the artificial border).

Plenty of Old Testament passages that can be pulled up – forgive us our sins and the sins of our forefathers / mothers. And all of it seems to undergird the work of Jesus, from his baptism that launched a movement. John was very reluctant to baptise ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’ in a baptism for the ‘forgiveness of sins’. Understandably so! But once Jesus said it was to fulfil all righteousness, into the water John plunged Jesus. Jesus, confessed sin – for that was the baptism of John – not his own sin, but the sin of the nation. Going all the way back to the wanderings in the wilderness, for therein lies the background to the 40 days in the wilderness and his meditations on those passages of Scripture. A door was opened, not all came through it, for to do so they had to separate themselves from this perverse generation.

First nations peoples. We need this start that the pope has taken on in and through his apology. The land is crying out for it. Talk to anyone in our neighbourhood who is over 60 years old and they will verbalise (in non-scientific language) the earth / climate has changed beyond all recognition. Sit as we do in 39°C (98°F) heat without air-conditioning and we do not need much to persuade us of the changes! Ask first nations people and they without scientific language will tell us.

I wonder what might happen if the start gets momentum. In Canada a nation of mercy, then beyond?

3 thoughts on “Yes! An apology

  1. An apology such as this can only really truly be understood in the context of what you speak about – the sins of our forefathers affecting us and the land etc.. It might seem like an empty gesture by some or seen by many conservatives as just another capitulation to ‘woke’ culture etc. It’s deepest spiritual meaning and what it can unlock for the future is what prophets ‘get’. I do think though that many people are deeply affected when they see a wronged person/people and the perpetrators of the wrong reconcile though and radical forgiveness is a topic that I’ve even seen covered in the media in articles etc. It does provoke the deepest emotion because it is rare and when witnessed, the heart of the human made in the image of God finds it hard not to respond to its potency and it releases waves of God’s love and grace.

  2. I have been doom scrolling the news. James Lovelock, the man who came up with the Gaia hypothesis died yesterday, on his 103 birthday (my birthday too!). In his final years he had a very pessimistic take on our future as a species due to climate change. 39 degrees could feel quite cool in 20 years if you have survived the famines up to then. What are we to do?
    The Pope came to Canada. First Nations people have tried to get a Pope here for decades. As I write he is in Quebec City ready to give an address on the Plains of Abraham. This location is where the future of Canada was determined as the French and English fought over control of this land in 1759. Of course issues in Quebec include the French language and their own identities and history. It is a moment and hopefully one that will allow us to move forward.
    The First Nations people really would like the Pope to speak to the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery, created through Papal bulls in the 15th century essentially declared that First Nations peoples did not really exist as they were not Catholics and therefore Europeans could take over and colonize the New World. I have noted that the Pope has spoken repeatedly to the importance of elders and especially mothers and grandmothers. The need to honor them and to use that wisdom to plan a better future. He has referenced indigenous cultural beliefs and connection to the land.
    The land is in distress, screaming for a right response. Our response determines our own future and that of all other species. May this open a door to a change for all of us, but especially those of us who are settlers in this land.

    1. Addendum:
      Just to clarify, the Pope spoke in buildings adjacent to the Plains of Abraham. But the speeches by the Pope, Prime Minister and Governor General, who is indigenous, were broadcast to crowds on the Plains of Abraham. Indigenous leaders have been calling for the Pope not just to apologize for individual Christians who walked a wrong way but rather for the church itself. Yesterday the Prime Minister called for the same as he noted that the institution of the church committed multiple crimes against indigenous peoples. The Pope did expand his apology yesterday and include the institution of local catholic churches who treated indigenous peoples wrongly. So a step forward, not as big as a step as many were hoping for.

Comments are closed.