Pope Francis has apologized to Canada’s natives for the Church’s role in schools where indigenous children were abused, describing forced cultural assimilation as a “deplorable evil” and a “disastrous error,” Reuters writes.

Speaking near the site of two former schools in Maskwacis, Alberta, Pope Francis went even further, apologizing for Christians’ support of the general “colonizing mentality” of the time and calling for a “serious investigation” of the schools for you would help survivors and offspring heal.

“With shame and without ambiguity, I humbly ask forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against indigenous peoples,” Francis said in the town, whose name means “bear hills” in the Cree language.

Pope Francis still uses a wheelchair

The 85-year-old pope, who still uses a wheelchair and cane because of a fractured knee, is making this week-long apology tour of Canada to fulfill a promise he made to indigenous delegations who – visited the Vatican earlier this year, where he presented the initial apology.

Indigenous leaders wearing eagle feather war helmets greeted the pope as a fellow chieftain and received him with chants, drum beats, dances and war songs.

“I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is to ask for forgiveness again, to tell you once again that I am deeply sorry,” he said.

“The Church kneels before God and begs his forgiveness”

He addressed indigenous groups at the Bear Park Pow-Wow Grounds, which is part of the ancestral territory of the Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Saulteaux and Nakota Sioux people.

“I am sorry for how unfortunately many Christians have supported the colonizing mentality of powers that have oppressed indigenous peoples. I’m sorry,” he said during the meeting with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.

“In the face of this deplorable evil, the Church kneels before God and begs his forgiveness for the sins of her children.”

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