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On the papal apology for Church involvement in residential schools

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 25, 2022

With reference to this news story, “Pope, in Canada, rues ‘disastrous error’ of residential schools”, let me offer just a few thoughts from the Champlain Valley, which was blessed by missionaries who gave their lives to bring the Faith to America’s indigenous peoples, as I wrap up a vacation at the end of this week.

First: It is always more grace-filled for the Church and her members to combat the evils “everybody” accepts now, in the present, than to apologize now for her past involvement in what “everybody” accepted then but abhors now. Do you see how this grace-filled approach reverses the normal ugly course of events? The Church will suffer far more in each “here and now”—and she will have to apologize far less when popular opinion changes later.

Second: While authentically Christian effort helps people in countless ways both in this life and the next, the value of all allegedly Christian effort must be determined by its spiritual results: Either it draws people into union with Jesus Christ for all eternity, in which case the effort was successful, or it does not do that, in which case the effort failed—whether through the fault of the Christians or the fault of those who rejected them. Christian results simply cannot be evaluated in worldly terms: “My kingdom is not of this world” (Jn 18:36), said Our Lord. Worldly success for the Church is more often than not, in one respect or another, a serious failure, and the Church ought not to seek to ally herself with worldly powers.

Third: If someone cannot understand the incredible beauty and joy of the life of the Mohawk Indian Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (feast day on July 14th, in the midst of Pope Francis’ preparations for his trip to Canada), that person is not equipped to properly evaluate the work of the Catholic Church, the reasons for her existence, her fundamental mission, and what really constitutes the sins of her members.

As members of the Church, we sin frequently; that goes without saying. We should apologize quickly and sincerely to all whom we harm by our sins, for our sins always create problems. But nothing creates human problems like the refusal on all sides to see the surpassing goodness of the Church as the Body and Bride of Jesus Christ—our Savior, our Redeemer, our Way, our Truth, and our very Life.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: CorneliusG - Jul. 26, 2022 5:25 AM ET USA

    What these woke scolds want is an apology from the Church for existing, followed by her complete obliteration. These schools introduced children to the truth of the Faith, to Jesus himself, which far surpasses the over-hyped value of indigenous culture, pagan and even demonic as it was.