Canada’s bishops are working to obtain a statement from the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery – National

Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican in hopes of issuing a new Catholic Church statement on the doctrine of discovery, organizers of the pope’s visit said on Wednesday.

Many Indigenous leaders and hostel survivors had hoped Pope Francis would renounce policies stemming from a series of edicts known as papal bulls, which date back to the 15th century. Countries, including Canada, have used the doctrine to justify colonizing areas that were thought to be uninhabited but were in fact home to indigenous peoples.

The pope made no direct mention of the Doctrine of Discovery when delivering his apology to survivors of the boarding schools in Maskwacis, Alta on Monday, prompting criticism for not fully acknowledging the role of the Catholic Church in the boarding school system.

Laryssa Waler, a spokeswoman for the papal visit, said Wednesday the Vatican had previously said the papal bulls linked to the doctrine had “no legal or moral authority” within the church.

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“However, we understand the desire to name these texts, to acknowledge their impact and to reject the concepts associated with them,” she wrote in an email.

“Following the calls from our Indigenous partners and the Holy Father’s statements, Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican and those who have been working on this issue with the aim of issuing a new Church statement,” she added. “The Canadian bishops continue to strongly reject and oppose the ideas associated with the doctrine of discovery.”

She also referenced parts of the Pope’s apology that she said she “directly condemned” the policies associated with the discovery doctrine. She said this included when he said: “Not least through their indifference, many members of the church and religious communities participated in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of the time, culminating in the housing system of schools. “

Earlier, Minister for Crown Indigenous Relations Marc Miller said the “holes” in the Pope’s apology could not be ignored.

Miller stressed how deeply the Pope’s words, delivered before a crowd of survivors and others gathered near Edmonton, are profoundly important to those who are now absorbing them.

“It’s still an emotional moment,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

The minister said indigenous peoples would decide for themselves what they think.

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Criticisms of the apology include that Pope Francis failed to mention sexual abuse in his remarks and the “evil” committed by Christians but failed to mention the Catholic Church as an institution.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) clearly called for a papal apology similar to the one the Vatican gave victims in Ireland in 2010, Miller said.

The minister said that Pope Benedict XVI’s apology sent in a letter relates directly to the sexual abuse of Irish children and the role of the Catholic Church.

“That’s a clear distinction between the two,” Miller said. “The differences speak for themselves.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), who represents Northern First Nations, said in a statement it was glad survivors were receiving an apology, but noted that there had been a failure to apologize for sexual abuse.

“Apologizing and acknowledging the damage done is just one step of many that needs to happen. There is still so much to do.”

“It was a bit surprising that the Doctrine of Discovery wasn’t mentioned either, but maybe it will come later,” MKO said in its statement.

Among the harshest critics of the apology was Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC.

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Sinclair said the pope’s words left a “deep hole” in acknowledging the full role the Catholic Church played in the running of boarding schools by emphasizing the actions of Christians, not the church as an institution.

Miller, who traveled to Alberta for the Pope’s visit, said the government would be looking for more details on what Pope Francis meant when he said in his apology that a “serious investigation” into what was happening at boarding schools was needed.

The TRC collected testimony from more than 6,000 witnesses over a six-year period in preparing its final report.

© 2022 The Canadian Press Canada’s bishops are working to obtain a statement from the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery – National


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