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Archbishop says pope wants to repeat his residential school apology on Canadian soil

Archbishop of Edmonton says Pope Francis statement last week just the first step on road to healing
Archbishop Richard Smith shares his observations regarding his trip to Rome, in Edmonton on Monday April 4, 2022. Archbishop Smith was part of the delegation that met with the Pope Francis over the Roman Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

The archbishop of Edmonton says the apology from Pope Francis for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in the residential school system is just the first step on the road to healing.

Archbishop Richard Smith, who was part of a delegation to the Vatican that included several Indigenous leaders, says the apology was a milestone and historic and is part of a springboard for reconciliation.

The Indigenous groups involved in the delegation also requested the church provide reparations, return artifacts and share any documents about residential schools.

Smith says although the pontiff has indicated he intends to visit Canada, nothing will be official until it’s announced by the Vatican.

But he believes he will visit and that Pope Francis wants to repeat his apology on Canadian soil.

Smith says the Pope also made it clear to the bishops that an apology needs to be followed up with concrete action, especially at the local level.

“Indigenous peoples across the country are distinct and they’re autonomous. We’ve got to be really careful … to avoid a perpetuation of colonial mentality, whereby we say to them: ‘Here are your problems — we know how to fix it and here’s what we will do for you,’” Smith said.

“Those days are over.”

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous delegates for Canada’s residential schools