Pope won't apologize for brutal treatment of Indigenous Canadians


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/03/30/pope-wont-apologize-for-brut.html


Oh Francis. And here I thought you were the cool pope.


How uncharacteristically rude of the Canadian government. It seems quite awkward to me for the government to demand an apology from a sub contractor for doing exactly what the government asked them to do. And given the framing, the apology would be forced and meaningless.


Listen to this Pope-pologist:

He makes the classic mistake of trying to talk over his debate opponent, when someone else controls his mic volume.


Don’t consider this a defense of the Catholic church or its leadership - But from their perspective, they were taking pagan children off the path to eternal damnation and giving them an opportunity to be saved by Christ. And, given the stakes, no treatment is too harsh to accomplish this goal. So why should they apologize? (It’s much the same logic that the inquisition ran on.)


(Sadly not considered a “mistake” by many U.S. conservatives, and for many U.S. men of nearly all stripes. )


That didn’t stop him before.

“Some may rightly say, ‘When the pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the church,’ ” Francis said. “I say this to you with regret: Many grave sins were committed against the native people of America in the name of God.”


Franny, you were doing so well…


I have always taken that to be an apology for the actual, physical genocide that occurred - the cultural, not so much.


Yeah. If you believe in the doctrines of Catholicism (which you’d expect the Pope to do, certainly, or at the very least maintain the public appearance of so doing) then getting people to turn to the One True Religion is an unalloyed good. Of course, you might think this is a terrible worldview and I agree, but you can’t fault him for answering like this. He couldn’t do otherwise.

(You can fault him for his entire belief structure of course, but that’s a different kettle of fish.)


At it’s worse, it was about “erasing the indian”, as was the role of similar schools in the US. I’m not sure people really fathom what it was like. My great, great grandmother wouldn’t go to Canada because she felt shame at being a “dark skinned” and “uneducated” half-breed. Oddly enough, one of her brothers wrote the family back in Scotland about the “drunken and lazy” who hang around the trading posts and pilfer. Such self-loathing, I don’t know if it was an observation or repetition of something others were saying. All the siblings had that ambivalence, neglecting that their mother was Syilx and must have meant a lot to them. It sits deep inside, a heavy burden. We became “white” because it was easier. We never suffered the schools or the scoop or the reservations (the distant cousins did), but lost the culture and the language. We should be crying toxic tears about what happened.

But, on top of the abuse of telling people they were bad for being indians, there was lot of physical and sexual abuse, either to “convince” the kids or perhaps because “they don’t count”. I think people can more easily see that as bad than the erasing of the indian.

Was that government policy, the physical and sexual abuse? I don’t know, but find it harder to believe. So the demand for an apology comes because of that physical and sexual abuse, not government trying to shift blame to the “subcontractors” for policy the government set down.

I think some of the other churches involved have apologized. I know I’ve checked local church websites for other things and seen that they have some program about Truth and Reconciliation. Maybe a feeling of obligation, but I’d like to think a real change.


This is exactly the semantic weakness of the Xian “Golden Rule”.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” - well, sure, I want to be saved, so torturing me and my children to death in order to get us into the Kingdom of God would be totes legit, I’d want that for me and mine, right? It’s better to suffer a little now than to burn in damnation for eternity! Right? Right? :eyeroll:

I’ve always far preferred the negative formulation, as in Jainism, Taoism, Sikhism, and many other systems. “If the entire Dharma can be said in a few words, then it is—that which is unfavorable to us, do not do that to others.”


That’s precisely the point I was trying to make.


Ooh! I get it! You’re doing what the kids call “trolling”, right?


The Canadian government has made apologies for residential schools. The Catholic church was their partner in it all.


Sure, but you can do the same form of casuistry on a negative formulation: “Oh, I wouldn’t like someone to just stand around while I make my way to eternal hellfire, now would I? Better help these people out.”

That’s the big problem with the golden rule, and to a lesser extent it’s big brother the categorical imperative depending on how you go about generalizing your action into universal law. “Promote Correct Christianity at any cost” may be acceptable to a religious zealot, but they may balk at a formulation of “Promote your preferred religion at any cost.” Getting people such as that to go past But It Is Different When I Do It is a huge, huge hurdle I’ve always found.


Even without the residential schools, the high “normal” rate of suicides of young people in reservations, punctuated by waves, shows that they’re still getting the “you don’t matter” message loud and clear.

We need to change that, because I don’t want to be one of “those people back then” that some future generation has to apologise for. (Solutions that include the words “for their own good” need not apply.)


What gives you that impression?


I think it’s harder to justify evil from the negative form, and I’m a Categorical Imperative guy myself, but yeah, the problem does persist. There’s a short rumination on the subject here that I think does a good job of avoiding bloviating off into Wittgensteinien abstrusity.


Don’t mistake me; what the church did was wrong. Full stop. There is no excuse for it; they deliberately aided and abetted cultural destruction. And they helped set up a loathing for native heritage in the people who should have been able to celebrate it, which is horrible.

And the church should apologize. But not because the government who paid them to do it says so, that’s meaningless. A verbal apology that is worth the paper it is written on.

The church needs to apologize because it realizes that it was wrong. And until then… they don’t get off this hook.

And it was wrong of the Canadian government to ask for the apology. Rude and demeaning of the First Peoples. And Canada had much to apologize for on their own behalf.