Vatican omits mention of residential schools in notes following meeting with PM

(Laureen Harper, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pope Francis at the Vatican Thursday. Photo courtesty PMO) 

Julien Gignac
APTN National News
Notes released by the Vatican recounting a 10-minute meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Pope Francis Thursday failed to mention the topic of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Harper said he reminded the Pope of the letter sent by his Aboriginal Affairs minister regarding the Truth and Reconciliation commission.

The letter, sent last week, notifies the Holy See of the commission.

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But in meeting notes released by officials at the Vatican, there is no mention of Harper raising the issue of the TRC.

The TRC released 94 recommendations June 2, one of which asks for an official apology to be made by the Pope in Canada for abuses carried out by the Roman Catholic Church in its residential school system.

The release made by Harper’s office does not specify which recommendation was presented or whether the prime minister personally invited Pope Francis to Canada to apologize.

Many hoped Harper would use the meeting with the Pope to secure an apology for what the TRC calls the “the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children in Catholic-run residential schools.”

The recommendation continues, “we call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this Report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.”

Pope Francis, however, was invited to the 150th anniversary Confederation in 2017 by Harper at the meeting.

The meeting came seven years to the day after the prime minister provided an apology in 2008 to residential school survivors in the House of Commons.

The Anglican church has already apologized for its role in residential schools that ran from 1840 to 1996.

“Prime Minister Harper addressed the situation in Ukraine and his deep concern with Vladimir Putin’s aggression, occupation and violence in Ukraine,” notes the PMO.

Also on the agenda, the “barbarism” of Islamic militants against religious minorities and environmental issues, said Harper’s office.

Harper gave the pontiff a hand-carved maple leaf made from the same stone used in the construction of Parliament Hill.

Thursday marks the final day of his six-country European tour.

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