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5 July 2021

Catholic Religious Communities Urge the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to Take Decisive Leadership in Advancing Reconciliation in Canada

Toronto, Ontario, July 5, 2021 – Twenty-one Catholic congregations of men and women religious across Canada have signed a letter to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) calling on them to demonstrate “clear and courageous leadership” in developing a National Catholic Reconciliation Plan.

As Catholics invested in the reconciliation process, we see as vital next steps that you:

1. Support the Indigenous invitation to the Holy Father, as the spiritual leader of the Catholic Church, to come and deliver a formal apology in person.

2. Encourage openness and transparency in the disclosure of all outstanding records and information about the running of residential schools.

3. Develop and fund a national and Indigenous-led Catholic reconciliation plan that:

  • addresses intergenerational trauma
  • supports survivors
  • supports the reclamation of Indigenous language and culture
  • creates educational and awareness-raising materials to decolonize our minds and hearts, and
  • produces other programs essential to the healing process.

Father Erik Oland, provincial of the Jesuits of Canada, said:

Thousands of Indigenous children have made their journey to their Creator in the spirit world. In this tragic and propitious moment, they are now speaking to us from their anonymous graves. Are we listening? Will we heed their voices? Apology is a risk, opening archives is a risk, committing to develop programs is a risk, but more importantly these are essential steps on the path to true healing and right relations.

His words echo the sentiments expressed by Sister Margo Ritchie, the congregational leader of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada. In her words:

We are experiencing the searing grace of a new collective consciousness among all of us as a Catholic community. There is no doubt that some choices have been made to respond to the calls of the Truth and Reconciliation Report. And yet…and now, we are called into the depths of a reconciliation that can give space for a new future of healed relationship.

The letter was delivered Monday, June 28 to the Rev. Richard Gagnon, President of the CCCB.

For more information, contact:

Sue Wilson, CSJ
Office for Systemic Justice
Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph of Canada
519-432-3781 ext. 402

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