26 Oct 2010

‘Apology? What apology?' Church’s attempt at reconciliation not enough, says counsellor

Metro News - Canada April 30, 2009

by Victoria Handysides

Edmonton -- Statements of regret from the head of the Roman Catholic Church are too little, too late for residential school survivors struggling to rebuild shattered spiritual faith, says a local counsellor.

“Apology? What apology?” Terry Lusty asked, his voice dripping with disdain.

Eight years of alleged brutal physical and mental abuse at the hands of staff at Winnipeg’s St. Joseph’s school would not simply be dismissed by an attempt at reconciliation by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday, Lusty said.

During an address in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope called rampant sexual abuse, involuntary sterilization and inhumane treatment suffered by Aboriginal schoolchildren between the 1880s and 1970s “deplorable conduct.” But Lusty feels the Pope didn’t place any accountability on the Catholic Church.

“He should get his head out of the sand and quit living in denial,” the 67-year-old insisted. “The Vatican should issue a formal apology in black and white.”

Lusty works as a counsellor with survivors at the Alberta Native Friendship Centre, and says local Anglican, Presbyterian and United Church groups have already committed to repairing confidence in spiritual leadership.

Reverend Travis Enright’s white collar is a fixture for hesitant eyes of the men he counsels, the All Saints Cathedral assistant curate said.

“The clothing is a big trigger for them,” he said. “They realize, though, that the church may be moving in a different direction and does care about their history.”

He said that even though amends and billions in financial reparations have been offered by the federal government, the Pope’s message is merely a courtesy, while front-line clergy are struggling to restore faith at the grass-roots level.

“We need to move past apologies to real reconciliation,” he said.

“We want a renewed hope.”

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