Thursday, June 01, 2017

Tutorials for the Pope

"I also had an opportunity to have a deeply personal and wide-ranging, thoughtful conversation with the leader of my own faith."
"He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world."
"We talked about how important it is to both highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet, with the moral and ethical obligation to lead and to build a better future for all people on this earth."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents a gift with wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau when meeting with Pope Francis for a private audience at the Vatican on Monday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau presents a gift with wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau when meeting with Pope Francis for a private audience at the Vatican on Monday.  (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS) 

Pope Francis holds what may arguably be called the highest office of any individual in the world, as hierarchical representative of the world's most followed religion, Roman Catholicism. This Pope in particular is a man of humble origins and great tact. The Canadian Prime Minister is a man who was born to wealth and privilege, and he exhibits the arrogance of entitlement in both his private and his public life while never failing to congratulate himself on his liberal social open-mindedness.

As a member of the Roman Catholic religion, and seemingly proud to call himself such, he has deliberately and calculatedly chosen to flout the most basic of Catholicism's trusts and beliefs. The Church abhors abortion, euthanasia and the diminishment of the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman by the introduction of same-sex marriage. Whereas Justin Trudeau, self-proclaimed feminist and promoter of a woman's right to choose, defends these anti-Church social alternatives.

Pope Francis has habitually deferred kindly to his visitors; welcoming them and listening carefully to what they have to say. Justin Trudeau had much to say in the sense of setting out to teach the Pope how he should view the obligations of the Roman Catholic Church to its adherents in Canada, in particular members of the Indigenous community of First Nations in Canada. They are owed, maintains Mr. Trudeau, an abject apology from the Pope asking forgiveness for the Church's part in establishing residential schools for First Nations children in the last century and beyond.

Residential schools, established by order of the Government of Canada in association with Canadian church councils, Protestant and Anglican and Catholic, to teach Aboriginal children the basics of self-care along with academic lessons taught in any other public school are in stark disrepute in Canada. Blamed for separating children from their families, families which were often dysfunctional. The purpose was to guide children into the mainstream of Canadian culture and values.

In the process, First Nations language, culture and values were discouraged in the hopes that the children would cleave instead to mainstream Canadian values, becoming proficient in English in preparation for joining the wider society. Great Britain has a long tradition of residential schools for the privileged. Children become homesick for what is more familiar to them and the absence of their family members from their lives becomes painful to them.

Moreover, in these schools punishment was often harsh and physically violent. Also prevalent in the schools was incidents of abuse, both physical punishment from teachers and sexual advances from other students and sometimes teachers. Children in residential schools were well fed, clothed and housed and had access to medical treatment. Despite which when diseases of the early and mid 19th Century and early 20th Centuries played havoc in communities throughout the land they did not fail to visit misery and sometimes death on the residential schools.

All the positive features of those schools; the bulk of the well-meaning and caring school personnel and teachers, the advantages given to the First  Nations children in preparing them for living in a more generalized society, the capacity to look after themselves, the awareness of the importance of good hygiene and dietary information for proper health along with discipline in their lives has been overlooked in the blame cast upon a system that deprived children of their families and families of their children.

Many wrongs have been suffered by Canada's Indigenous populations. The residential schools were not necessarily among them, however. But a culture of victimization has evolved to full throttle by First Nations groups battling the scourges of alcoholism, drug abuse, lethargy, welfare dependence, family dysfunction, and the most dire, violence directed from within against their own, where women and girls are abused violently, and children have no respect for anyone, nor hope for their own futures.

Persuading Pope Francis that it would be in the best interests of the Church and the Church's First Nations flocks in Canada to have him apologize for the Catholic Church's role in the residential schools in Canada is no solution to the complex and wretched situation of First Nations in Canada. And for Canada's Prime Minister to suggest that it is, represents an absolutely misdirected arrogance of the first water.

Pope Benedict did, on one occasion, express anguish and sorrow over the outcome of the residential schools being a disaster as claimed by First Nations who use it as an excuse for everything that goes wrong in their communities, rather than examining their own culture's lack of values and the kind of devotion to the emotional and practical needs of the young to prepare them for their futures. Instead, First Nations communities face an epidemic of suicides among the young, drowning in hopelessness.

Rather than addressing their failed responsibilities, the thought that an apology from the Pope for a situation he had nothing to do with, on behalf of a Church which followed the initiative of the-then Government of Canada, First Nations communities simply continue their trajectory of victimhood and blame directed toward others, failing the introspection and dedication required to delve into the origins and to solve problems that bedevil their communities.


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