Pope Francis' meeting with leaders and community members of Inuit, First Nations, and Metis was a reckoning of sorts.

The pontiff reportedly apologized for Christian involvement in the systematic abuse of Canada's indigenous schoolchildren for over a century.

According to US News, the event was held on Monday, July 25, 2022, at Bear Park Pow-Wow Grounds in Maskwacis, Alberta.

'Deplorable Evil'

The news article revealed how Francis apologized to those present for the Church's 'disastrous mistake' in forcing indigenous schoolchildren to assimilate into a foreign culture.

The 'forced cultural assimilation' included physical punishments and sexual harassment against the young victims.

The pope went on to call the acts "deplorable evil," the report added.

Francis, 85, expressed his deep regret to the indigenous groups for how their young people were treated in indigenous schools run by Christians.

"I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of asking forgiveness...I am deeply sorry," he said.

"With shame and unambiguously, I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the indigenous people," the pontiff added.

The pope likewise underscored the Catholic Church's commitment to opening a thorough investigation into the role of some schools in committing abuse of indigenous schoolchildren through a "colonizing mentality," the report noted.

Francis said the move to investigate is a way to achieve healing among those directly and indirectly affected by the Christian support for the forced cultural assimilation of Canada's indigenous schoolchildren.

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Healing Tour

Monday's event was the first time the 85-year-old pontiff issued a face-to-face apology to the leaders of the indigenous communities affected by the issue.

The report said that Pope Francis hopes to use the tour to 'heal the wounds' that went deep into the hearts and minds of the affected communities.

It follows the accidental discovery of a grave that contained the remains of 200-plus children at a British Columbia property that once served as a residential school run by the Church.

The US News report noted how, from 1881 to 1996, the Roman Catholic Church participated in the systematic forcible transfer of over 150,000 indigenous children from their communities to designated residential schools across Canada.

The children reportedly suffered sexual and physical abuse, including starvation and heavy beating.

The country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission termed the act a "cultural genocide," the report said.

Community Response To Papal Apology

On their end, the tribal leaders and survivors of the Church's abuses said they deserve something aside from the pope's apology.

The report said the affected communities called for the repatriation of some artifacts that missionaries shipped to the Vatican. They said those artifacts belong to the indigenous communities in Canada.

Additionally, the article said the community members asked for monetary compensation for the abuses committed against their communities.

They likewise clamored for the Church's assistance in exacting justice against an alleged abuser. The report disclosed that the alleged abuser is currently living in France.

Finally, the communities demanded that the Church provide them with the official school documents from the involved religious orders, the report bared.

Despite their misgivings, community members positively responded to the latter's gesture.

Many applauded Francis' expression of apologies, while others expressed verbal agreement with the pontiff's statements during the event, the report said.

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