The popes have issued an apology for the abuses of the Catholic Church

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Pope Francis on Monday apologized to Canada’s Indigenous community for the Catholic Church’s role in overseeing decades of abuse at some of the country’s residential schools. The schools, which were run by both churches and Canada’s federal government, removed an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children from their families – and used hunger, sexual violence and religious indoctrination to forcibly assimilate students .

But this was not the first time that Francis – or even his predecessors – asked forgiveness for the crimes and transgressions of the Church. In fact, his remarks were the latest in a string of papal apologies in recent years.

Not all pleas have fully implicated the church, instead accusing individuals of wrongdoing or misconduct. Here are some of the most recent apologies from leaders of the Catholic Church.

Residential school survivors in Canada reacted with gratitude and frustration after Pope Francis issued an apology for the “catastrophic” school policy on July 25. (Video: Reuters)

Francis is in Canada this week for the first papal visit since 2002. On Monday, wearing a headdress presented to him by Indigenous leaders, he described Canada’s residential school system as “catastrophic” and asked forgiveness for the “evil committed by so many Christians. .”

“I am deeply sorry – sorry for the way in which, unfortunately, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed indigenous peoples,” said Francis, originally from Argentina, in his native Spanish.

Francis is the first Latin American pope and has issued several apologies since becoming head of the Catholic Church in 2013, including for sexual abuse. In a letter to Chilean bishops in 2018, he admitted to having “serious errors” in handling a sex abuse scandal. Later that year, he wrote a long letter to Catholics around the world in which he expressed deep regret for the church’s role in the abuse of minors and the ensuing cover-up, saying: ” We showed no care for the little ones. We abandoned them.

In 2015, during a trip to Bolivia, Francis apologized for the “many grave sins…committed against the Native Americans in the name of God.”

“I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offense of the church itself, but also for the crimes committed against the native people during the so-called conquest of America,” he said, as reported by the New York Times.

Benedict XVI was pope from 2005 until 2013, when he resigned, citing health reasons. During his pontificate, the church’s sexual abuse crisis – and his alleged involvement in helping to sweep it under the rug – attracted extraordinary media attention, much of it focused on Benedict him. -even, according to the Pew Research Center.

In 2010, as sex abuse scandals swept through the dioceses of Europe, Benedict wrote a letter to Catholics in Ireland apologizing for decades of “systemic” child abuse. He criticized church authorities in Ireland but did not sanction any leaders.

This year, the former pope expressed his ‘deep shame’ after a church-commissioned German investigation accused him of wrongdoing in handling sex abuse cases while leading the Archdiocese of Munich between 1977 and 1982.

“I can only express to all the victims of sexual abuse my deep shame, my deep sadness and my sincere request for forgiveness,” Benedict XVI said. “I had great responsibilities in the Catholic Church. All the greater is my grief for the abuses and errors that have occurred in these different places during my tenure.

Pope John Paul II lasted 27 years, from 1978 until his death in 2005. The first email he sent, in November 2001, was an apology for “a series of injustices, including sexual abuse , committed by the Roman Catholic clergy in the Pacific”. nations,” the BBC reported.

Prior to this, John Paul II offered his atonement for a number of Church sins. In the 1980s and 1990s, while visiting countries in Africa, he “regularly apologized for the role of the Church in the slave trade,” reported the Associated Press.

He also wrote a general apology to women, who “have often been relegated to the margins of society and even reduced to servitude”, he said, blaming “cultural conditioning” and some “members of the Church “.

The church also officially apologized during his pontificate for not taking more decisive action during World War II to stop the extermination of more than 6 million Jews, The Washington Post reported.

Chico Harlan and Amanda Coletta of Maskwacis, Alberta contributed to this report.

Martha J. Finley