Walking Together - Catholic Church Statements


Pope Francis' Apology to Canada's Indigenous - Maskwacis Alberta, July 25, 2022



To read the texts of Pope Francis' speeches and consults the Canadian Papal Visit archives, click here




Pope Francis' April 1st, 2022 Apology to Indigenous Peoples.


 Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops Statements

July 26, 2023 - CCCB Press Release - The Holy Father's Apostolic Visit to Canada: Looking Back One Year Later

Today, on the liturgical Solemnity of Saints Anne and Joachim, we remember that a year ago, in July 2022, His Holiness Pope Francis came among us in Canada (his 37th apostolic journey) to undertake what he referred to as a “penitential pilgrimage.” A very important pastoral visit for the Holy Father, which he made in communion with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, it marked an important step towards "walking together" in the Church’s relationship with Indigenous Peoples, both in Canada and abroad. Travelling over 8,000 km to reach Canada, Pope Francis then travelled 5,700 km within Canada, with stops in Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit, where he attended seven events in total.
Looking back upon the apostolic visit, Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the CCCB, remarks on its momentousness: “During those days with Pope Francis in Canada, we recognized in him the Lord's mercy, which he offered to us. We realized that the Holy Father’s presence had involved great personal and physical effort on his part, but we also knew how much his encounters with Indigenous Peoples represented, and still represent a living expression of a mutual effort – the Holy Father with the Church in Canada – to “walk together” and to open up new horizons of hope within our communities.”

For the complete Press Release, click here.


September 30, 2022 - CCCB Statement for the Nation Day of Truth and Reconciliation

As Canadians pause to observe the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Catholic Bishops of Canada prayerfully reflect on the painful journey of Indigenous Peoples of This Land. We are especially mindful of the role of the Catholic Church in operating residential schools and the pain and ongoing trauma it has caused for generations of Indigenous families. In particular, we remember the children who endured pain and suffering in residential schools, aware that many did not return home.

We pray that our journey of Walking Together with Indigenous Peoples will continue to heal wounds and nurture a path that fosters healing and reconciliation. We were heartened by the encounters this year between the Holy Father and residential school Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and young people at the Vatican followed shortly thereafter by the penitential visit to Canada by Pope Francis. We recall the words of the Holy Father during his pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne:

“When we are lonely and restless, Jesus urges us to go out, to give, to love. So, let us ask ourselves: what do I do for those who need me? When looking at Indigenous Peoples and thinking of their history and the pain that they endured, what do I do? Do I merely listen with curiosity, horrified by what happened in the past, or do I do something concrete for them? Do I pray, meet, read, support them, and let myself be touched by their stories?”

May the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation provide each one of us an opportunity to learn, reflect and act in our ongoing journey of healing, reconciliation and hope.



May 23, 2022 - CCCB Statement on the occasion of the anniversary of the findings at the Kamloops Residential School

It is with great sadness that Canada’s Catholic Bishops wish to recognize the one-year anniversary of the shocking reports from the site of the former Kamloops Residential School. These triggered a painful and lasting reminder of the ongoing legacy of suffering caused by Canada’s residential school system.

Over the last year, the Catholic Church’s reconciliation efforts have been galvanized by the reports from Kamloops, and elsewhere across the country. With humility, we have sought to undertake the necessary steps to meaningfully accompany Indigenous Peoples on the long journey towards healing and reconciliation.

In September of last year, Canada’s Catholic Bishops came together to apologize unequivocally for the role of Catholic entities in the residential school system, and for the grave abuses committed. In reaffirming our commitment to healing and reconciliation, we supported a delegation of Indigenous Peoples to the Holy See in March, where we welcomed an apology from the Holy Father, and have launched renewed fundraising efforts in support of reconciliation initiatives, as well as other initiatives on records disclosure and education.

This journey is far from over, and Canada’s Catholic Bishops recognize we must continue to walk in solidarity with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples of this land.

On this somber anniversary, Canada’s Catholic Bishops wish to reiterate our deep regret and heartfelt sadness for the Catholic Church’s role in the Indian residential schools. Today, we pray for children who did not return home, and for the survivors and communities who grieve and cope with the trauma as the truth of residential schools comes to light.

CCCB Statement on the occasion of the anniversary of the findings at the Kamloops Residential School (PDF)


April 1st, 2022 -Canada's Catholic Bishops Welcome Pope Francis' Apology to Indigenous Peoples

Today marks the conclusion of the Indigenous delegation to the Holy See, culminating with an historic apology from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system.

The Holy Father expressed “sorrow and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system. He said, “I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”

“We are deeply grateful to each of the Indigenous delegates who travelled with us to the Holy See to share their experiences and desires for a brighter future for their people,” said Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) President, the Most Rev. Raymond Poisson. “The Holy Father has heard first-hand the stories of those who suffered at the hands of Catholic Church members, and has responded with compassion, remorse, and a genuine desire for truth, justice, and healing.”

The Holy Father’s apology was informed by private encounters between March 28th and April 1st with 32 Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors and youth from across Canada.

Delegates shared a range of lived experiences including from their time in residential schools, the resulting loss of culture and language, and complex relationships with the Catholic faith that continue to this day. Through shared prayers, the exchange of gifts and the telling of powerful stories, Pope Francis was moved by their courage, their commitment and their resilience in the face of suffering. He emphasized his shame for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, and re-committed to visiting with them on Canadian soil.

The delegation follows more than three years of dialogue between Canada’s Catholic Bishops and Indigenous partners, including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Métis National Council (MNC), and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), with a goal of learning and discerning how best to support them on the journey of healing and reconciliation. As this dialogue is ongoing, we have taken several important steps to support a more hopeful future, including a $30 million pledge towards healing and reconciliation initiatives, a commitment to ensure residential school documents are made available to survivors, and ongoing work to provide education for our clergy, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful, on Indigenous cultures and spirituality.

“As Catholics, we believe in the restorative power of apologies. But acknowledging wrongdoing is only one step of the healing journey. We all have a role to play in healing the wound that was opened up through a history of colonialism and must be  deeply committed to this responsibility,” said CCCB Vice President, the Most Rev. William McGrattan. “As we prepare for the Holy Father’s eventual pilgrimage to Canada, the relationships forged this week and the lessons learned from Indigenous delegates will continue to guide and inspire us.”

We heard a call from Dr. Wilton Littlechild to walk where there’s no path and create a new one for people to follow. Every delegate who courageously spoke to their experiences has taken up this call, and we are grateful that Pope Francis responded in kind. We look forward to walking on this path together.


January 28, 2022 - Canada's Bishops Announce Reconciliation Fund to Support Projects Across Canada

Canada’s Catholic Bishops have agreed to establish a new registered charity to support and advance healing and reconciliation initiatives. The charity is expected to manage the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, which will accept contributions from 73 dioceses across Canada in order to fulfill the $30 million financial commitment made by Canada’s Bishops in September.

“The Bishops of Canada are fully committed to addressing the historical and ongoing trauma caused by the residential school system,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB). “In moving forward with our collective financial commitment, we will continue to be guided by the experience and wisdom of Indigenous peoples across the country”.

To read the document Canada's Bishops Announce Indigenous Reconciliation Fund to Support Projects Across Canada, click here

For a Q and A document about the Indigenous Reconciliation Fund, click here



September 24, 2021 - Statement of Apology to Indigenous Peoples of This Land

The Catholic Bishops of Canada, gathered in Plenary this week, took the opportunity to affirm and acknowledge to the Indigenous Peoples the suffering experienced in Canada’s Indian Residential Schools. Many Catholic religious communities and dioceses participated in this system, which led to the suppression of Indigenous languages, culture and spirituality, failing to respect the rich history, traditions and wisdom of Indigenous Peoples. They acknowledged the grave abuses that were committed by some members of our Catholic community; physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and sexual. They also sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous Peoples that continue to this day. Along with those Catholic entities which were directly involved in the operation of the schools and which have already offered their own heartfelt apologies, the Catholic Bishops of Canada expressed their profound remorse and apologized unequivocally.

To read the document Statement of Apology by the Catholic Bishops of Canada to the Indigenous Peoples of this Land, click here.

Following up on the Apology, the Catholic Bishops of Canada have also pledged 30 millions dollars to support healing and reconciliation initiatives. For more information, click here.



Indigenous Delegation to the Holy See - Click here

Discovery at Former Kamloops Indian Residential School - Click here


Archdiocese of Regina
Bishop Donald Bolen's Statement - Click here


Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan Statement - Click here