Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Pope Francis to apologise for the role of the Catholic Church in a Canadian school system where indigenous children were abused for decades.
The PM met the pontiff at the Vatican city on Monday as part of his trip to Italy for attending the G7 summit.
The residential schools were set up from the 1880s to take children from their families and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society. The last school of such type was closed in 1996.
“I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology,” Mr Trudeau told reporters after meeting the pope.Trudeau added that he had invited the pontiff to make the apology in Canada.
Some 150,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families, and sent to live in church-run boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their language or practise their own culture.
Meanwhile the Vatican has not commented on Mr Trudeau’s request till yet, it stated that the talk was “cordial” and lasted about 36 minutes. It said the conversation “focused on the themes of integration and reconciliation, as well as religious freedom and current ethical issues” but did not mentioned an apology request of Mr Trudeau directly.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper issued an apology on behalf of Canadians in year 2008, calling it “a sad chapter in our history”.
A year later, Pope Benedict expressed “his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church” to a delegation a national advocacy organization, that visited the Vatican.
In 2015, Mr Harper met Pope Francis and brought his attention towards the commission’s findings.
Mr Trudeau said he also spoke with the Pope Francis regarding the importance of control over the climate change.
“We talked about how important it is to highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet and the moral and ethical obligations to lead, to build a better future for all people on this earth,” Mr Trudeau said.
During the visit to the Vatican, Mr Trudeau was joined by his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. While in Italy, he also visited the Roma football club and meet Italy’s political leaders as well.