Putin is not the only one who needs to apologize for atrocities past or present.
A headline today tells of how Pope Francis met yesterday with leaders of the first peoples of Canada and apologized for the atrocious treatment of indigenous children in Catholic schools of the past. Accounts of thousands of children being separated from their families and tribe, language and religion, and exported to church-run institutions make one’s blood boil.
Pope Francis promised to come to Canada some day and apologize anew on the land where these atrocities took place. He also joked that it probably won’t be in the winter.
Sadly, he kept mum about the Doctrine of Discovery scandal, that is the three papal bulls of the late fifteenth century delivered by two popes. These bulls gave a green light to European “Christian” kings and queens to go to lands where Christians did not rule. This included such places as Africa and the soon-to-be-opened-up “New Worlds” of the Americas and Pacific Islands, etc. Permission was granted to take whatever was wanted: slaves from African, and slaves and booty from other lands as well.
I propose that the Vatican host a ritual in St. Peter’s Square where these evil documents—which entered American and, eventually, English jurisprudence—be publicly burned, denounced, and apologized for. (Maybe the originals might remain under glass in the Vatican museum, so we do not forget, and facsimiles could be burned.)
The evil and trauma of these schools—which were part of the United States landscape as well–has been passed down over generations of indigenous history. Psychologist Donna Schindler, lived among the Navajo for 25 years and told the story in an important book, Flying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound.
Her book is described as “a song for the American soul” and “a collection of heart stories about historical trauma and offer a path toward healing for Natives and non-Natives alike.” I was privileged to write a Foreward to that book.
The title Donna chose derives from a tomb at the first such school in the United States. The dead child was ten years old and we know nothing more about him.
See Matthew Fox, Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh: Transforming Evil in Soul and Society.
And D. Schindler, MD, Flying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound (Santa Ynez, Ca: Tribal Eye 2020)
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Banner image: “Depiction of the Sand Creek Massacre by Cheyenne eyewitness and artist Howling Wolf.” By Howling Wolf. Public Domain. Wikimedia Commons.
Queries for Contemplation
What feelings arise in you when you learn more about the trauma that indigenous peoples have undergone often at the hand of religious institutions and representatives? How do we learn from past evils and also tend those wounds and work together toward a fuller future?
Recommended ReadingFlying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound
By Donna Schindler, MD; Foreword by Matthew Fox
A white psychiatrist shares the truths she has learned about historical trauma in this book which has been called ‘prophetic’ by Reverend Matthew Fox. Starting with her childhood in South Texas and Bermuda, she takes us on a journey during which she had to confront her own racial biases and denial of the truth in order to work as a cross-cultural psychiatrist with a Maori mental health team in New Zealand, the Navajo Nation and California Native Americans.