Some religious institutions could be regarded as vehicles of morality, and as the communicators of the good of divinity for the betterment of humanity. However, this notion may be far from real when we look into the behaviour of some religious authorities, which instead of promoting the good, seem to be more congruent with the unjust.
There is no doubt that the Catholic Church has been involved in many disturbing controversies in the last few years, which absolutely oppose the loving teachings of Jesus Christ. Besides the Church’s public intolerance of people’s sexuality and lifestyle, the institution has damaged the most vulnerable members of society: children. This blog is not only about the sexual predation of some priests towards the innocence of childhood, but about the survival of children from an episode of abusive, racist and unjust political-religious regime in Canada.
The nation’s Residential Schools were an educational regime that went from the late 1800s until the 1990s, and focused in the indoctrination of Aboriginal children. It was run mostly by Christian faith schools, where about 70% were Catholic run, with the support of the federal government. It is estimated that approximately 150,000 Aboriginal children attended these schools throughout its duration.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an estimate of 4,100 children died in 130 schools around the nation, and the number of deaths is expected to rise as the federal and provincial governments are in the process of releasing documents. These children perished from diseases, malnutrition, building fires, drowning, negligence, abuse, and suicide. These do not include the inconclusive fates of the many children that went missing. The Commission also estimates that many schools had up to a 60% mortality rate, and it is obvious that the government of Canada was well aware of this as it was recorded. In relation, some documents imply that the federal government carried medical and nutritional experiments on the attending Aboriginal children. Thus, I believe there is no doubt that the children which were able to complete or leave this horrific system regard themselves as survivors, and when reading some of their testimonies, there is clear evidence of psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In 2006, there was a settlement of $1.9 billion reached for reparations from the federal government and the participating religious institutions, payable to the survivors of the system. The government, and the Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches fulfilled their payment in full. However, the Catholic Church was supposed to pay $29 million into the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, but lowered it to $18 million to cover ‘expenses’, from which it is still outstanding $1.6 million in payments. The federal government has expressed outrage for the Catholic Church’s cover of their legal fees at the expense of the victims. In addition, Catholic groups committed to fundraise $25 million, and only a small part of that amount has been collected.
This, in my opinion, is truly an undignified situation from an institution that is supposed to promote the good, virtue, faith, and the word from the God of millions of people. An institution of such power and size, which claims morality, should not behave in the greedy ways of many multinational corporations. In turn, this institution should promote justice and provide the requested reparations, which in my opinion, are not enough to cover over a century of heinous crimes. However, the faith of the religion itself is not the one to be criticized, since there are good, conscious and just Catholics. Thus, perhaps Catholic authorities should look into many of its carrying and loving believers, and perhaps restructure the institution from the bottom up, from a more humane perspective, from the people that would give the Catholic faith a good representation. Perhaps the institution needs to become more humanized, since it seems that it has, ironically, divorced from humanity.
All information gathered from the following sources: