"I humbly apologize for the evil that so many Christians committed against indigenous peoples." This Monday, as soon as we landed in Edmonton (Canada), andhe Pope Francis went, in his wheelchair to Maskwacis, to Parque del Oso, where one of the largest cemeteries of the assimilation policies that Catholic missionaries carried out against tens of thousands of native populations of the North American country is located.
Bergoglio, who can't even take a single step due to knee problems, has called his tour of Canada a "penitential pilgrimage." And the image of him at the edge of a lake and his request for forgiveness have been compared by those who accompany him to other scenes of repentance lived in Yad Vashem (the Holocaust Museum) or in the Auschwitz extermination camp.
Francisco unambiguously assumed blame for the damage inflicted over more than a century on more than 150,000 Inuit, mestizos or members of indigenous peoples. A pardon that was already made explicit when, in April, the communities visited the Vatican, despite the opposition of many sectors, who considered that separating parents from their children, imposing a language or a culture are one way of bringing the Gospel as another any.
This act of the Pope has awakened the other pardons that the Church gives, and must give, and has once again given a voice to its victims: people who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of priests or women despised by the Church, another of the great sins without penance from the institution.
One of the victims of sexual predators is Alfonso Ruiz de Arcaute from Vitoria. He suffered abuse as a child and it was only a month and a half ago when he received recognition as a victim and a request for forgiveness from the congregation to which his abuser belonged, the Dominicans.
Now, listening to Francisco in Edmonton, Arcaute acknowledges that "my eyes have once again filled with tears." "My story leads me to listen to his message about the abuses committed against native peoples, especially against children in schools run by the Catholic Church, asking for forgiveness also for sexual abuse against children."
Arcaute remembers the meeting he had, along with other victims, last February with Cardinal Omella. But, he maintains that "unlike Omella, who once again fails the victims, the Pope takes the symbol of moccasins and sets off on a penitential pilgrimage." According to his analysis "in this act the Pope has offered true keys to reparation, as when he affirms that traumas are relived every time they are remembered."
And he opposes the situation that still exists in Spain: "It seems that the ecclesial hierarchy, at least in the Spanish Church, is still not capable of reacting with the radicalism that the situation requires," he laments.
One of the most recognized Colombian activists in the demand for reparation with women in the Church, Carmiña Navia, has been recognized in the Pope's request for forgiveness. And she wants it to go further: "Women also expect a request for forgiveness from the Church", she affirms, emphatically, in an open letter to “brother Francisco”, in which he recognizes that "this request for forgiveness shows a very special and necessary harmony with the marginalized and mistreated in history."
“This is not the first time that you have apologized and made gestures of approaching others, those who are different, those who travel different routes, those who are dispossessed and suffering,” affirms Navia, who adds: “Don't you think that the Church, in its own head or in someone else's, should apologize to women, to women in general? There are so many reasons, throughout history, for it ", and she enumerates:
"The silencing to which it has been and is subjected, the absolute lack of recognition. The attempt to steal the historical memory of a power like that of Mary of Magdala. The condemnation of the female body as a path to sin. The persecution of witches and their murders. The marginalization and condemnation of such extraordinary and visionary women as the Beguines, passing over them in silence in all the histories of the church and memories of Christianity. A biblical reading that has identified them with evil, with the "flesh" and its negative connotations, with sin. Never having given it an adequate place in the ecclesial structure and denying it full equality of rights and opportunities in this already advanced 21st century."
“Maybe you can't change things much… maybe you're a captive of invisible powers… But asking for forgiveness can. It is in his hands. The women who love the Master of Galilee await that request that can open us to a future in sororos embraces”, concludes the letter, which has already been delivered to Bergoglio.
"I renew my request for forgiveness and tell you, with all my heart, that I am deeply hurt: I apologize for the way in which, unfortunately, many Christians adopted the colonialist mentality of the powers that oppressed indigenous peoples," Francis said in Canada. , who insisted on maintaining this trip despite the fact that weeks before he had canceled, due to his health problems, the planned one to South Sudan and Congo.
"I come to your native lands to tell you personally that I am hurt, to implore God's forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, to show you my closeness, to pray with you and for you." It is not the first that the Catholic Church does, but it is the most intense.
Already John Paul II, during his two trips to the country (1984 and 1987), also referred to the pain suffered by the original peoples, but his words did not sound like apologies: "The time has come to heal the wounds, to heal all the divisions. It is time to forgive, to reconcile and to commit to building new relationships," Wojtyla said.
And it is that the 'Bergoglio style' has also reached these aspects. "This is a Pope who is getting us used to recognizing our mistakes and asking for forgiveness," says the president of Messengers of Peace, Father Angel, who assures, between smiles, that the Pope "copied" a phrase from me, that the religious uses very often: "Better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission".
Something confirmed by his collaborators, who see how the Pope has forced the Church to 'change the tone', which, in an institution accustomed to not apologizing, is a revolution. The case of Canada has been repeated, over the years, on many occasions. Especially symbolic was the Pope's request for forgiveness after his visit to Chile, recognizing that he had been wrong (because the Pope is also wrong) when assessing the magnitude of child abuse in the country. The scandal in Chile led to an "anti-abuse summit" that, three years later, has changed ecclesiastical legislation and forces bishops and religious leaders to integrate policies of forgiveness, reparation and healing for victims of pederasty. Another thing is that, in practice, these are met.
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