Trudeau says Catholics disappointed in church's side-stepping

Trudeau calls out church

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had harsh words Monday for the Catholic Church, calling on the institution to “practice what it preaches” and take responsibility for its role in Canada’s residential school system.

The Catholic Church has paid only a fraction of the $25 million it was supposed to have provided for residential school survivors according to the terms of a 2006 agreement. The church has cried poor, but a recent Globe and Mail investigation found the institution has Canadian assets of more than $4.1 billion and brought in $886 million in donations in 2019.

During a press conference on Monday at the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc powwow arbour, Trudeau was asked whether his government will press the church to take responsibility and pay up.

“We have seen, unfortunately, from the Catholic Church a resistance to taking on responsibility, whether financial or moral, for its role in residential schools,” Trudeau said, noting the same can’t be said for all religious organizations that were involved.

“I have to say, as a Catholic, I find it extremely difficult to see the church resist asking for forgiveness and apologizing. It’s supposed to be at the core of Catholic teachings.”

Trudeau said there is an “ongoing dialogue” between the church and Canadian First Nations leaders.

“I think the millions of Catholics, like me, across this country, expect the church to step up and fulfill its moral responsibilities, its legal and economic responsibilities and its historic responsibilities, but also to practice what it quite literally preaches,” he said.

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