Queen’s chancellor, distinguished fellow respond to Papal apology

Bob Watts is the former Interim Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and a Distinguished Fellow in the School of Policy Studies at Queen's University.

The Honourable Murray Sinclair, Queen's University Chancellor and the former Chair of The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, issued a statement in response to Pope Francis' historic apology this week.

"The Holy Father's statement leaves a deep hole in the acknowledgement of the full role of the church in the Residential School system," he stated.

"It is important to underscore that the Church was not just an agent of the state, nor simply a participant in government policy, but was a lead co-author of the darkest chapters in the history of this land," he added.

Former Interim Executive Director of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Distinguished Fellow at the School of Policy Studies at Queen's, Bob Watts spoke with CFRC in the wake of the apology.

"There’s a few things that many of us expected…to really talk about the role of the church. He talked about individuals being consumed with colonization and doing evil deeds…a disastrous error incompatible with the gospel of Jesus Christ…he seems to point to a few individuals and not say the church apologizes."

Watts helped negotiate the Indian Residential School settlement agreement and says there were close to 50 orders.

He adds the Doctrine of Discovery had no place then and it has no place now.

Chancellor Sinclair also said in his statement, "this was a concerted institutional effort to remove children from their families and cultures, all in the name of Christian supremacy. While an apology has been made, that same doctrine is in place. The Pope and the Church remain silent on the most problematic tenets of its belief system."

Pope Francis is presently in Quebec, and is scheduled to stop in Iqaluit on Friday before returning to the Vatican.

Listen to the full CFRC interview with Bob Watts below: