Pope Francis caresses a child as he leaves after his weekly general audience with a limited number of faithful in the San Damaso Courtyard at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andrew Medichini

Pope Francis caresses a child as he leaves after his weekly general audience with a limited number of faithful in the San Damaso Courtyard at the Vatican, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Andrew Medichini

Pope, Canadian Cardinals meet amid calls for church to act on residential schools

Pressure is mounting for the Catholic Church to take action, accept responsibility for the residential school system

Pope Francis met today with two Canadian Cardinals as pressure mounts for the Catholic Church to take action and accept responsibility for the residential school system that targeted Indigenous children for decades.

According to the Vatican’s daily roster of papal audiences, the pope was scheduled to meet today with Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal Michael Czerny, a top official in the Vatican’s migrants and refugees portfolio.

There was no indication of what the meeting about. Past listings show Pope Francis meets weekly with Ouellet, but rarely with Czerny.

The meeting came a day after the United Nations called on Canadian authorities and the Catholic Church to conduct “thorough investigations” into the remains of 215 Indigenous children found last month at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia.

The Kamloops school operated between 1890 and 1969 when the federal government took over operations from the Catholic Church and ran it as a day school until it closed in 1978.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also put pressure on the Catholic Church Friday, calling on officials to “step up” and take responsibility for its role in Canada’s residential system and urging them to release records on the schools.

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