Quebec cardinal Gérald Lacroix talks about hope for a cure – Arkansas Catholic

Dark page in Catholic history recognized after finding anonymous graves in schools

Posted: July 2, 2021

Photo CNS / Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence

Innu sisters Rose-Aimèe and Henriette Vollant came from Sept-Îles, Quebec, to attend First Nations Sunday Mass at the Sanctuary of Ste. Anne de Beauprè in Quebec on June 27, 2021.

STE.-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRÉ, Quebec – During the annual Sunday Mass of the First Nations, Cardinal Gérald Lacroix acknowledged that the revelations and achievements surrounding the anonymous graves of former residential schools administered by Catholic communities “have the history of our country. Decisions and behaviors, both of government and of churches, “have contributed to the suffering” of our “brothers and sisters”.

“God has not failed. We failed, ”he declared in his homily on June 27 at the Sanctuary of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. However, he added, choosing life paths “is within our grasp.”

“We cannot change this sad chapter in our history,” he continued of the suffering of Indigenous peoples in Canada. “We cannot afford to forget it. But we must work for reconciliation and healing to heal the wounds of this past that never ceases to haunt us.”

The traditional First Nations Sunday celebration, which could not take place last year due to the pandemic, went without the usual pomp and circumstances. This year’s mass was limited to 250 people due to ongoing COVID-19 measures. There were no dancers and no traditional costumes often worn by many devotees on this day. The indigenous presence in the basilica was low-key, contributing to the introspective atmosphere of the celebration.

“Over the past few weeks, we have heard many reports that have reopened the wounds of a painful past,” said Cardinal Lacroix. “We are not here this morning to debate these realities. Other places, other times are more conducive to open and frank dialogue.”

He said he was “full of hope” for the meeting announced between Pope Francis and representatives of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis who are due to go to the Vatican before the end of the year. Cardinal Lacroix said he was confident that the Pope will be able to “say the right things and do the right things”.

He spoke again at the very end of the Mass, addressing the indigenous peoples who were in the church or following the celebration live on the internet.

“Know that our Catholic community is committed to continue the path with you, in search of the truth that frees us, on the path of reconciliation which allows us to heal”, he said, before mentioning two saints.

He began by recalling the meeting between Saint John Paul II and the First Nations on September 10, 1984, at the same sanctuary. The Polish Pope spoke of the Gospel which “nourishes from within” indigenous cultures.

The cardinal exchanged his usual episcopal crook for a cane in which is encrusted a relic of Saint François de Laval, “a man who had so much love for the First Nations”. “He defended them tooth and nail, he loved them and they loved him. May we rediscover those bonds of friendship and trust that we have broken over the centuries. With the blessing of God, it is possible” , did he declare.

Two Innu sisters came from Sept-ÃŽles to attend the annual event. Rose-Aimée and Henriette Vollant said they were “really touched” by the celebration, especially in this period of search for the truth.

“It seems that the Innu nations will rise up and become stronger,” said Henriette Vollant. “We will be strong.”

“I also thank the whites, who taught us to read and write. Today we can defend ourselves. Defend our lands, our rivers. I thank the whites for that.”

She noted that because of the suffering caused by the government and certain priests, many Innu no longer want to know anything about the priests.

“But that doesn’t mean that…” – her sister finished her sentence – “that they should all be put in one basket.”

Redemptorist Father Mario Doyle, regional coordinator for the Redemptorist province of Canada, said First Nations on Sunday continue to exist precisely to address spiritual matters.

“It’s an opportunity – as political and social issues play out – to have a spiritual approach that allows for integration. Through the turmoils of history, keeping a connection like we do in the sanctuary can be useful for finding the truth, finding paths to reconciliation and seeing how we continue to move forward, ”he said.

White and native Christians are busy “seeking the ways of the possible,” he added. “And Sainte-Anne is a place of possibility.”

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