OTTAWA (CCN) — Much more needs to be done when it comes to reconciliation with Canada’s indigenous peoples, said Canada’s apostolic nuncio.
“As we approach the celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of Confederation this July, we all have to go back to school to examine a page of history and recognize that, while many positive benefits came from the evolution of Canada as a nation, there were, along the way, difficulties and failings,” Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi told diplomats, political representatives, church officials from various faiths and friends attending a June 22 reception at the Apostolic Nunciature in Ottawa.
He referred to Pope Francis’ recent meeting this spring with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during which the prime minister discussed the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Catholic Church’s role in running Indian residential schools.
“Pope Francis has spoken out on other occasions about these painful realities, as did the popes before him, acknowledging that, in the work of evangelization, the legitimate aspirations as also the cultural inheritance and profound dignity of persons and communities were not always accorded due respect and honour,” the nuncio said. “Much more needs to be done in the work of Truth and Reconciliation.”
“During the course of his visit the prime minister once again expressed the desire of Canadians from coast to coast that this country can open its doors to welcome Pope Francis in the not too distant future, the cherished hope of us all,” Bonazzi said.
Bonazzi painted a portrait of who Pope Francis is as a man, as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, based on an interview he did with Rev. Antonio Spadaro for Civiltà Cattolica in 2005. Pope Francis described himself as “a sinner,” the nuncio said. “I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.”
The pope also told Spadaro that upon his election to the papacy he said: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.”
“From this self-awareness and that definition of self that Pope Francis gives, it is easy to understand why, since the first days of his pontificate, he seems interested in only one theme: mercy,” Bonazzi said. “Mercy is the code for deciphering the pontificate of Pope Francis. He is firmly convinced that the mercy of God embraces not only personal situations but also the events of this world, the events of society, human groups, families, peoples and nations.”
“Precisely for this reason, nothing and nobody is ever lost,” he said. “The human being is never irretrievable. No situation is impermeable to the subtle and irresistible power of the goodness of God, which never abandons man and his destiny.”
“Truth is actualized in fullness only in mercy,” the nuncio said. “Indeed, the last word of history and life is not that of conflict but of unity, to which the heart of every human being aspires.”
Bonazzi spoke of the daily work of the Holy Father, of “opening doors, building bridges, establishing contacts, maintaining friendships, promoting unity” with all from “the great and powerful of the world and with the poor, with special preference for the poor, the homeless, the lonely and the unwanted.”