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Home The Church in Canada and the World Catholic Church in Canada

Catholic Statements of Regret on former Residential Schools

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The Catholic community in Canada has a decentralized structure.  Each Diocesan Bishop is autonomous in his diocese and, although relating to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, is not accountable to it.

Approximately 16 out of 70 Catholic dioceses in Canada were associated with the former Indian Residential Schools, in addition to about three dozen Catholic religious communities.  Each diocese and religious community is corporately and legally responsible for its own actions. The Catholic Church as a whole in Canada was not associated with the Residential Schools, nor was the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a brief submitted to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples in November 1993, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that "various types of abuse experienced at some residential schools have moved us to a profound examination of conscience as a Church."

Already in 1991, Canadian Catholic Bishops and leaders of men and women religious communities had issued a statement that "We are sorry and deeply regret the pain, suffering and alienation that so many experienced" at the Residential Schools.

There have been, and continue to be, numerous initiatives by Catholic agencies and institutions in Canada to help heal the sufferings of the Aboriginal Peoples. The process of healing and reconciliation is ongoing.

The following are some of the expressions of regret that those in Catholic leadership positions have made over the years with reference to the former Indian Residential Schools:   

 
The Holy See
Canadian Centre for Ecumenism
Catholic Organization for Life and Family
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Salt + Light
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In parishes across the country, masses are celebrated in at least 37 languages.