The proof is in the action, despite what the media will tell you

The muting of approval following Pope Francis’ wholesale, emotional, and historic apology on Canadian soil for the “evil” done to the Indigenous people has come in two forms.

Jul 29, 2022

Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary Simon, governor general of Canada, at Citadelle de Quebec, the residence of the governor general, in Quebec City July 27, 2022. (The Catholic Register photo/Michael Swan)

The muting of approval following Pope Francis’ wholesale, emotional, and historic apology on Canadian soil for the “evil” done to the Indigenous people has come in two forms.

One is an entirely understandable cautionary response from the Indigenous people themselves – often political leaders on First Nation’s territories – who voice appreciation for the pontiff’s words but insist speech is but a preliminary to reconciling action. Given the history of sweet promises and bitter betrayal Indigenous people have experienced for centuries, the caveat qualifies as wisdom.

The second is the predictable sour approach of a swath of secular journalists who are covering the papal penitential visit as though it were a garden-variety campaign by generic political figures subject to the Iron Law of Election Reporting: find the negative and amplify.

The hostility plays out in classic media gas lighting fashion:
First, excoriate the Church at every opportunity for its failure to apologise to the Indigenous people with the exact degree of abjectness and in the precise manner demanded.

Second, when the Church does follow the jots and tittles of the apology script insisted upon, as Pope Francis has now done twice since April, eviscerate it for behaving as though an apology actually means something real.

Third, persistently neglect to mention that the Church in Canada is already raising $30 million that will be deployed, exclusively under First Nations’ direction, for the healing of wounds inflicted by the Indian Residential Schools and the policies that justified them.

Nor have Canada’s Catholic bishops made only lofty promises to raise the $30 million. As The Catholic Register reported five days before Pope Francis arrived, the all-Indigenous national board has already underwritten a first project from the fund. Using some of the $4.6 million raised to date by Catholics, the Cote Culture Camp in Saskatchewan, northeast of Regina, put “children and youth in practical touch with their language, ceremonies, history and heritage through land-based instruction and continuing language classes,” our Associate Editor Michael Swan reported.

More, without question, will follow. Does that obviate the Church taking further action in future to redress past wrongs? Does it make the evil and sins for which Pope Francis apologised simply go away? By no means. Making good things happen doesn’t mean wrong things never happened. Wrongs are history. They endure. But actions, particularly actions that seek genuine forgiveness, can be signifiers of change, indeed, of progress.

The Indigenous people have every right to choose to test the reality of that progress to their satisfaction. But that must be carefully distinguished from media negativity and, yes, measures of journalistic animus toward Holy Mother Church, intended to wrap the papal visit in a shroud of sour insignificance. -- The Catholic Register

Total Comments:0