When Kamloops Bishop David Monroe recently met with survivors of Indian Residential Schools, he wasn't entirely sure what would result. Two Indian Residential Schools (St. Joseph's, Williams Lake, and Kamloops IRS) had operated in his diocese. He went, and he was forthright.
"As Bishop I can say that I am sorry for any harm that's been done."
The response from the natives: "We forgive you."
Bishop Monroe noted that in spite of the residential schools he has never felt rejected by former students: "I thank you for that."
The legacy of the Indian Residential Schools has been a sad and troubling one, but it's also been an incomplete one.
There are positive stories that came out of those times, and some of those stories are now starting to be told.
In a column, Vancouver Sun religion writer Douglas Todd discusses the mutual respect that aboriginals and churches are sharing these days in the run up to the the work of the national Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
He reports the findings of Canadian religion sociologist Reginald Bibby, who finds that Canada's natives are quite forgiving toward the Christian Church. In fact, churches often are a big part of native life, and levels of support for Christianity and Catholicism among natives are actually higher than in some segments of the Canadian population.
See next week's B.C. Catholic for a full report on the Kamloops gathering.