Wrong Way Charlie


Convivium, 19 April 2018

New Democrat MP Charlie Angus’ bid to embarrass Pope Francis into apologizing ­– yet again – for Canada’s residential schools is wrong, wrong, and monstrously wrong, writes Convivium Editor-in-Chief Father Raymond de Souza.

Parliament will set back both truth and reconciliation if it passes a motion proposed by Charlie Angus, the NDP MP from Timmins-James Bay. He wants Canada’s Catholic bishops to invite Pope Francis to visit Canada to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) included a papal apology on Canadian soil among its “calls to action.”

Last month, Pope Francis said that he would not be personally coming to Canada to offer an apology, but if he did come to Canada at some point, an encounter with aboriginal Canadians would be a top priority.

Mr. Angus pronounced himself unsatisfied and therefore wants a resolution of the House of Commons that would demand Catholic bishops invite Pope Francis to appear in Canada and offer contrition. Furthermore, the motion demands that the Catholic bishops go back and resume fundraising for a $25 million fund, a campaign that petered out some years back.
On Wednesday, the motion failed to win unanimous consent to pass without debate, so it will return for debate and voting. Several Conservative MPs denied the unanimous consent required.

I have written several times on this issue, ever since the TRC made a serious mistake in calling for another papal apology, disregarding the papal apology offered by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, and accepted then by the chief of the Assembly of First Nations as “closing the book” on apologies.

Last month, I wrote again that the demand for another apology undermined the sincerity and reconciliation achieved the first time.

On the more complicated issue of whether the various Catholic entities involved had fulfilled their responsibilities to the residential schools settlement, I wrote two years ago that they had done all that they had committed to do, and more.

So, Mr. Angus is up to a bit of mischief, clearly misrepresenting the Catholic record on this issue. Earlier this week, the Canadian bishops released a detailed account of what has been done since the early 1990s, when the first Catholic apology was made, more than twenty-five years ago. It is a detailed account, moderate in its tone.

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