AT LAST. AT LONG, LONG LAST.
The Pope has just apologized for the abuses committed by certain members of the Catholic Church against children while students at Canada’s residential schools. He delivered his apology directly to school survivors who were delegated to meet with him at the Vatican. The apology had been sought for decades. The Holy Father has done the right thing, the just thing.
His words were clear:
“I feel shame … sorrow and shame for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, and the abuses you suffered and the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values,” he said… For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”
Our Firm’s History — Advocating For Residential School Survivors
As a young lawyer, some 30 years ago I travelled throughout Ontario meeting with the survivors of such schools. Most of my clients had attended the Spanish Residential School, just north of Manitoulin Island. We met in motel lobbies, in living rooms on reserves and at homeless shelters in Toronto. They spoke of heartbreak, of a sense of abandonment. Many spoke of physical abuse, others spoke of sexual assaults.
Some were bitter in the extreme, others were resigned to what had happened, and still others were in the throes of addiction and mental health crises.
Our firm went on to negotiate for them the first mass settlement of residential school claims in this province.
Many of our clients have now passed on. May those still living and the families of those now deceased derive some measure of comfort from these words from Rome.
John A. Tamming