Bishop Donald Bolen, left, and Archbishop Murray Chatlain shared their perspectives on how to mend the hearts and minds of wounded Aboriginal people.

CCN PHOTO | DEBORAH GYAPONG

Bishop Donald Bolen, left, and Archbishop Murray Chatlain shared their perspectives on how to mend the hearts and minds of wounded Aboriginal people.

September 28, 2015
DEBORAH GYAPONG
CANADIAN CATHOLIC NEWS

Canada's Catholic bishops discussed how to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) calls to action. The dialogue happened during their annual plenary meeting in Cornwall, Ont.

Although the CCCB was not involved in running residential schools, it realizes it has a role to play in building a new relationship on a new foundation, said CCCB president Archbishop Paul-André Durocher.

Among the calls to action is a request for an apology from Pope Francis.

Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen, chairman of the CCCB's justice and peace commission, said, an apology would be up to Pope Francis and it is possible the CCCB will be consulted.

The request to the pope for an apology comes because he is seen as head of the Catholic family and "his apology would matter greatly," he said.

Bolen explained that among the Aboriginal people, when one member did a wrong, the whole family would be held responsible for making reparations.

Archbishop Murray Chatlain said the TRC's calls to action have a strong emphasis on the importance of dialogue and of people getting to know each other.

This "requires dealing with the pain of the past," including the way that pain has been passed on to present generations, he said.

A good example of the healing needed is found in The Returning to Spirit program.

It begins with a circle of Aboriginal people sharing their stories of pain, explained Chatlain. There is also a Church circle where people tell what they tried to do, or share how it feels to be misunderstood.

CREATE RESPECT

"We have to find a way to get out of those defensive postures, to create a third circle of the two, where we are really speaking to each other in a new relationship of mutual respect and relationship," Chatlain said.

Chatlain said another of the calls to action asks for a respectful approach to indigenous spirituality.

He told of going on a 30-day vision fast and was asked to bring a sacred pipe. The archbishop went to an

Aboriginal elder and asked to borrow a sacred pipe.

"He replied, 'Can we use your chalice?' For them, they are similar in dignity," Chatlain said.