Justin Trudeau has asked Pope Francis for an apology for the Catholic Church's role in the treatment of indigenous children in residential schools it helped run in Canada.
The Canadian prime minister and his wife met with Pope Francis at the Vatican during an official visit to Italy.
About 150,000 children, roughly 30 percent of native Canadians, were placed in the so-called residential schools starting in the late 1800s to reportedly strip them of their traditional cultures and languages, according to The Guardian.
Many of those children connected with the residential schools were taken from their families and allegedly suffered neglect and abuse, The Daily Mail reported.
While the schools were funded by the Canadian government, they were administered by mostly by the Catholic Church, according to The Guardian.
"I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology," Trudeau, who is Catholic, told reporters after meeting the pope, according to The Guardian.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission made 94 recommendations concerning the history of residential schools, including a papal apology to the survivors, their families and the communities where the schools operated, The Canadian Press noted.
The Canadian Press said Pope Francis expressed enthusiasm in working with the prime minister and Canadian bishops on finding a way forward on issuing of an apology.
The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations Perry Bellegarde told The Canadian Press that he hopes the Pope will follow through with an apology.
"Pope Francis has a lot of influence on world thinking and is a very, very popular pope," Bellegarde said, according to The Canadian Press. "He's a very influential individual and to have him come would be a ... huge undertaking on that road to reconciliation."
Romeo Saganash, the Canadian New Democratic Party's Indigenous and Northern Affairs critic, ripped the prime minister for not taking care of the needs of natives in Canada, wrote The Canadian Press.
"What the prime minister needs to do is act on the things he needs to act on here in Canada rather than begging the Pope to apologize," Saganash said, per the Press. "If the commission has asked for it, then it's important, but the prime minister needs to focus on the crisis that we live as First Nations communities in this country today, tomorrow morning."
Trudeau said he also invited the Pope Francis to Canada and found common ground on climate change and humanity's impact on it, according to The Guardian.
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