The Pope has assured Thursday during his fourth day of travel in Canada that the Catholic Church in the country has been “wounded by the evil perpetrated by some of his sons and daughters”, and has asked forgiveness to the victims of sexual abuse committed in the country by the ecclesiastical institution.
During a Mass celebrated in the Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec, in the southeast of the country, the pontiff said that the Catholic Church in Canada is on a new path after having been wounded by some of its members.
“I am thinking in particular of the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people, scandals that require firm action and an irreversible commitment,” Francis said in statements reported by ‘The Globe and Mail’.
“In these moments, we can do little more than cling to our sense of failure and ask: What happened? Why did it happen? How could it happen?” said the Pope, who admitted that such questions are asked “with deep sorrow.”
In this regard, Francis has forgiven all victims of sexual abuse committed within the Catholic Church in Canada.
“Together with you, I would like once again to ask forgiveness from all the victims. The pain and shame that we feel must become an occasion for conversion: Never again!”, said the pontiff, who stressed that the Christian community “can never again allow itself to be infected by the idea that it is legitimate to use forms of coercion against others”, reported ‘Vatican News’.
Hours earlier, the Pope celebrated Mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, which was also attended by the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.
There, a group of indigenous people has exposed a banner that read: “Rescind the doctrine”. In this way, they asked the Pope to issue a new declaration of the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery, organizers of the papal visit told the CBC network.
The pontiff has asked the Indians for forgiveness because the Church ran nearly half of the 139 residential schools where they suffered all kinds of abuse. Even so, before the Mass, a group of indigenous people unfurled a banner asking the pope in French “to rescind the Doctrine”, in reference to the so-called ‘Doctrine of Discovery’, a series of papal bulls in the 14th century blessing colonization and land appropriation.
Indigenous people have been expressing a mixture of hope and skepticism about the pope’s visit, and some said Thursday that they want to hear about the actions that will follow the pontiff’s historic apology.