Since 2021, the Church in Canada has been under siege by leftists who claim Catholic residential schools for Canadian Indians abused children and even caused their deaths at the turn of the twentieth century and beyond.
The Church was part of a governmental effort to educate these young yet isolated populations according to the standards of the day. The students suffered from the illnesses of the time, which resulted in deaths.
The left has taken these occasional deaths and turned them into a charge of genocide. These claims are now falling apart for lack of evidence. The left’s response is to double down on their lies.
Claims Lead to Vandalism and Arson
Researchers armed with ground radar systems claim to have located cemeteries of these children as evidence of abuse. The media has inflated these claims, which may have contributed to the nearly one hundred acts of vandalism and arson that damaged destroyed Catholic churches in the wake of the controversy. Many of these churches serve the native populations.
Church officials have repeatedly apologized for the supposed abuse at the schools and even for the deaths. However, no amount of regret was proven sufficient to satisfy activists who constantly ask for more self-criticism, funds and publicity.
The Crime of “Denialism”
The liberal government is adding fuel to the fire by insisting upon the genocide narrative. It granted $4.7 billion in reparations to “address the shameful legacy of residential schools.” It has commissioned special interlocutor Kimberly Murray to issue a special report soon to be released.
Even before its release, she recommends that the government create the criminal offense of “denialism” that could be applied to those who dispute Indigenous accounts regarding residential schools. Justice Minister David Lametti is amenable to drafting such legislation.
Instead of taking a position of outraged defense against such false charges, the Canadian bishops insist upon engaging in “listening” processes that are part of the spirit of synodality and “reconciliation.” They are waiting to see what the report will contain before acting.
Meanwhile, researchers are finding little to support the unmarked cemeteries narrative. The uproar and vandalism are based only on radar imagery that indicates unidentified objects below ground, not the recovery of remains.
When workers recently excavated the Pine Creek Residential School in Pine Creek, Manitoba, they found only rocks. To date, there is no physical evidence to suggest foul play at any of the Church schools.
A Bishop Reacts
While most bishops are silent on these investigations, one retired Canadian bishop is taking the offensive against those attacking the Church. Despite being sick in bed, he asks his brother bishops to join him in the fight. He is disappointed that none have responded to the call.
Bishop Fred Henry is no stranger to controversy. The former bishop of Calgary, who retired in 2017, has always been involved in hot-button issues like abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and other culture war themes.
Now 80 years old and ill, he attacked the false claims against Church-run schools for Indians circulated by the government and media. The bishop e-mailed all Canadian bishops, asking them to challenge the lie of these deaths. He is asking the left “for proof that even one residential child is actually missing in the sense that his [or] her parents didn’t know what happened to their child at the time of the child’s death?”
Raising Hostility, not Reconciliation
He finds it incredible that the uproar is based on information that cannot name a single child as evidence. Likewise, the “unmarked” grave designation is built on flimsy evidence. He claims that accepting the lie will unjustly put the blame on the Church and the tireless and selfless work of countless priests and nuns serving the Indian population. It will cause tension and hostility, not reconciliation.
“It seems abundantly clear to me [to ask what follows] if the Catholic Church…the lie that there are thousands of missing residential schoolchildren to become embedded in stone? Obviously, [it means] these thousands of missing children were murdered by Catholic priests and nuns and clandestinely buried in unmarked graves. Is the Catholic Church prepared to go that far in the name of reconciliation?” he asked in the e-mail to Toronto’s Catholic Register.
Fortunately, the bishop is not the only one who is crying fraud. Newspaper publisher Conrad Black wrote a blistering editorial for the National Post in which he affirms, “This entire controversy is an outrage, a boondoggle and a fraud. False accusations of genocide do not promote ‘reconciliation.” Justin Trudeau’s performance has been shameful; he has disgraced Canada.”
The Mystery of Leftist Narratives
The left’s revolutionary agendas use narratives, not facts. The key to success is to stay on message and insist upon the claims of oppression even when proven false. The objective is to create a climate of intimidation toward all who dispute these libelous claims and reduce them to silence.
In the case of the Canadian schools, the tactic appears to be working.
“For some reason, ‘they have eyes to see but refuse to see, ears to hear but refuse to listen,’” Bishop Henry writes, referring to his fellow bishops. “Their silence is doing irreparable harm to the Church that I love.”
More brave voices like Bishop Henry and Mr. Black are needed to break the silence and expose the left for its attack on truth and the Church. Silence is not an option.
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