Vatican City, Jun 6 (EFE).- Pope Francis on Sunday called for church leaders and politicians in Canada to work together to investigate the recent discovery of the remains of 215 indigenous children on the grounds of a former Catholic boarding school in British Columbia but fell short of issuing an apology.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau had on Friday demanded an apology from the Catholic Church.
“I join the Canadian archbishops and all of the Catholic Church in Canada to express my closeness with the Canadian people traumatized by the shocking news.
“The sad discovery further increases understanding of the pain and suffering of the past,” he added after the weekly Angelus Prayer.
He called on political and religious figures “to continue to work together with determination to shed light on this sad event and to commit themselves humbly to a path of reconciliation and healing.”
Rosanne Casimir, head of the Tk’emlups Te Secwepemc, an indigenous group in western Canada’s British Columbia province, announced on May 28 the discovery of the remains on the grounds of a former Kamloops school residence. Thousands of children passed through the school system during its almost 80 years of existence.
The Kamloops boarding school, part of the system of 130 residence halls set up by Canada’s government, was run by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
The Oblate Missionaries were responsible for the management of almost half of the 130 school residences for indigenous people established between 1890 and 1996, the year in which the last boarding school closed.
It is estimated that some 150,000 indigenous children were interned in these institutions and at least 4,000 died during their stay from illness, neglect, accident or abuse.
United Nations human rights experts called Friday on Canada and the Vatican to investigate the discovery.EFE