It was with great anticipation that I awoke recently to read about the meeting between the First Nation delegation of residential school survivors and the Pope.
I was hoping for an apology for the suffering his church inflicted upon us just as Prime Minister Stephen Harper did on behalf of the Canadian government back in 2008.
I was very disappointed that the Pope did not actually apologize, he expressed his “sorrow” for what we suffered in church-run residential schools.
sorÃ‚Â·row (sr, sÃƒÂ´r) n.
1. Mental suffering or pain caused by injury, loss, or despair. See synonyms at regret.
2. A source or cause of sorrow; a misfortune.
3. Expression of sorrow; grieving.
intr.v. sorÃ‚Â·rowed, sorÃ‚Â·rowÃ‚Â·ing, sorÃ‚Â·rows
To feel or express sorrow. See synonyms at grieve.
To express sorrow is a first step, yes, but without an apology it really doesn’t have much weight.
When my mom sat down with me in my documentary My Own Private Lower Post, she first expressed sorrow for what she put me through because of residential school Ã‰ then she apologized.
She took ownership and responsibility for her actions and told me she’s sorry for what she put me through. This helped me to do the same with my kids.
By only expressing “sorrow” with no apology, the Pope has said he feels bad for what his church put us First Nation people through Ã‰ but he’s not taking responsibility.
This was also expressed by only meeting with the delegation in a “private” audience.
Even Harper expressed sorrow and “apologized” in a formal public statement in the Canadian Parliament.
I appreciate the work of the delegation to bring this important “skeleton in the closet” directly to the Pope.
And I also appreciate the Pope meeting with them and expressing his sorrow.
I only hope and pray that the Pope follows his own church’s teachings regarding the confession of sins:
“The confession (or disclosure) of sins, even from a simply human point of view, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through such an admission man looks squarely at the sins he is guilty of, takes responsibility for them and thereby opens himself again to God and to the communion of the church in order to make a new future possible.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1455)
Only when we receive this formal, public apology will we be able to finally put this behind us and move on. It’s about taking responsibility, it’s about helping fix the wrongs done Ã‰ it’s about healing.
Duane Gastant’ Aucoin