On Wednesday, Pope Francis said that the testimonies he heard from indigenous victims of violence in boarding schools run by the Church in Canada felt like a "slap in the face."
During his papal trip to Canada last week, Pope Francis met with representatives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
The Pope asked for forgiveness for the "evil" perpetrated in the residential schools, which were established by the Canadian governments of the time but largely run by the Catholic Church.
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From the end of the 19th century until 1996, 139 Canadian boarding schools housed over 150,000 indigenous children, of which at least 6,000 died from various diseases, malnutrition or neglect, and many others were victims of physical and sexual abuse.
“I assure you that in these meetings, especially the last one, I received the pain of these people like a slap in the face,” Francis said during the weekly general audience at the Vatican.
Hearing “old people who had lost children, who do not know where they were” was “a painful moment,” he noted.
Following the trip, he also used the term 'genocide' to describe these acts of violence and stated that time may come for him to retire soon enough.