Montreal archbishop apologizes for residential schools, as two churches hold vigils for 215 children
MONTREAL -- Two Montreal Catholic Churches held vigils Friday for the 215 children that were found buried in unmarked graves at the Kamloops residential school in B.C.
Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lepine also released a statement of solidarity, sorrow and regret for the role the church played in administering the residential school program.
He also apologized, which is something the head of his church has failed to do.
"I unite my voice with theirs to express my most sincere apology for the injustices committed against Canada’s First Nations families and communities," wrote Lepine.
"Indian residential schools shattered lives: the lives of the families and communities whose children were snatched away from them, the lives of the children themselves, who were terribly lonely, uprooted and often mistreated," he added. "I am deeply distressed to know that, as Catholics and as Canadians, we collaborated in view of God and the world with this policy of assimilating the First Nations people under the guise of education."
Outside of the Maria-Ausiliatrice Church in Riviere-des-Prairies on the northeast tip of Montreal, prayers are being spoken for the 215 children.
Romina Perrotti organized the vigil.
"Being a mom of two, that really fuelled everything for me," she said. "Our children are our lives and I can’t even imagine what the parents of these children went through.
"Mindful that we ourselves have had a share in such great indignities."
The discovery has meant another reckoning for the Catholic Church, and many have been conflicted by their faith, including Ojibway Roger Twance, who is a devout Catholic.
"There’s a lot of Indigenous people who are Christian, who are Catholics, and we all recognize that it wasn’t the Church who did this- it was the people," he said.
Not everyone shares Twance's point of view.
Anger and frustration remain across the country with many demanding Pope Francis deliver a full apology.
"A lot of people talk about the position of the Church and how it was linked to that terrible drama that was uncovered in Kamloops," said Jean-Pierre Couturier.
Lepine said Catholics first need to acknowledge the damage the church and church officials called and commit to assisting families to find the truth about their loved ones.
"Words cannot express the great sorrow I feel in the face of so much suffering," he wrote. "We must offer our apologies for the wrongdoing that has been committed."
Another vigil was held Friday at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal.
In RDP, shoes were left on the Church steps, one pair for each child who died.
"Jesus came to us to tell us that there is hope- there is always hope and that’s what we need to attach ourselves to," said Twance.