'Apologies don't bring back our children': Pope's presence draws mixed reaction, calls to rescind Doctrine of Discovery

·3-min read

As Pope Francis began his mass on Thursday at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré Basilica in Quebec, protesters called on him to further his reconciliation efforts.

Protesters held up a sign that read "rescind the doctrine," in reference to the Doctrine of Discovery, papal edicts dating back to the 15th century that led to colonization and seizure of Indigenous land.

"With heartfelt sorrow on its difficult and demanding journey of healing and reconciliation, and confronting the scandal of evil and the body of Christ wounded in the flesh of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep dismay," the Pope said. "We too feel the burden of failure."

Former Manitoba senator Murray Sinclair and chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, issued a statement on Tuesday following the Pope's apology, stating that Pope Francis has "left a deep hole in the acknowledgement of the full role of the Church in the Residential School system, by placing blame on individual members of the Church."

"It is important to underscore that the Church was not just an agent of the state, nor simply a participant in government policy, but was a lead co-author of the darkest chapters in the history of this land," the statement reads. "Driven by the Doctrine of Discovery and other Church beliefs and doctrines, Catholic leaders not only enabled the Government of Canada, but pushed it even further in its work to commit cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples."

While an apology has been made, that same doctrine is in place. The Pope and the Church remain silent on the most problematic tenets of its belief system: that Indigenous peoples in Canada and around the world should not have the right to practice their own faith, cultures, and traditions. Reconciliation requires action, not passiveness.

Canadians continue to take to social media to respond to the Pope's continued presence in Canada this week.

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