On Monday at the St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis led hundreds of pilgrims and visitors in a moment of silent prayer for the Indigenous children who died in Canadian residential schools and for their grieving families, different media in Rome reported.
“With sorrow I am following the news from Canada about the shocking discovery of the remains of 215 children, pupils at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in the Province of British Columbia, “Pope Francis told the crowd gathered and added that, “I join the Canadian bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people who have been traumatized by this shocking news,” the pontiff said.
“This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past,” he said.
The Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation reported May 30 that using ground-penetrating radar an estimated 215 bodies had been found in unmarked graves at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.
According to the reports, the school was opened in 1890 and, on behalf of the Canadian federal government, was run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate until 1969. After that, the federal government took over the administration and ran the facility as a residential building for students at day schools. It was closed in 1978.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been studying the residential-school system as part of a broader look at the treatment of the nation’s Indigenous communities. They have records of 51 children dying at the Kamloops school, according to information posted on the website of the Oblates’ Lacombe province.