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Catholic bishops apologize for church’s role operating Indian boarding schools

By Sari Horwitz and  Dana Hedgpeth

U.S. Catholic bishops issued a formal apology Friday morning for the church’s role in inflicting a “history of trauma” on Native Americans, including at church-run Indian boarding schools where a Washington Post investigation published last month documented pervasive sexual abuse by priests.

The vote by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which establishes policies and norms for the church in the United States, represents the most direct expression of regret to date by church officials for past participation in a systematic effort by the U.S. government to forcibly assimilate Native Americans into White society. By a 181-2 vote, the bishops approved a document, called “Keeping Christ’s Sacred Promise: A Pastoral Framework for Indigenous Ministry.” Three people abstained.

The document does not specifically mention sexual abuse, but says “we all must do our part to increase awareness and break the culture of silence that surrounds all types of afflictions and past mistreatment and neglect.”


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