Today we read that First Nations people are having trouble attending the Truth and Reconciliation Commission over their treatment in church-operated residential schools. There is no surprise there.
What is surprising is that the churches are continuing in their 'superior' role, that assumes, although they may have some 'humility,' they are continuing to "provide resources" for the victims to tell their stories.
Many First Nations people would prefer the churches to stay away and leave them to their own grieving, and their own healing.
It seems impossible for churches ever to have to come to terms with their own evil actions, attitudes, and perceptions.
Do they think they are exempt from ever having done wrong? Or do they believe that, because they are/were acting "for God" that they do not have to atone for their abusive behaviour?
There is no institution more abusive in the history of the western world than the Christian church. It has killed, and maimed for centuries, with impunity, except, of course, in the eyes of God. It has abused its priests, in so many ways that everyone has lost count. It has also abused parishoners and for centuries it has "remained" above the fray.
A recent cover of Time magazine had a photo of the Pope, Benedict XVI, with the caption, "Being Pope means you never have to say you're sorry."
Who do these church leaders think they are that they can "facilitate" the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's work? One victim expressed the legitimate view that it might be a little difficult to heal with the perpetrators sitting across the table.
Why does the commission not provide a forum for the victims, without the presence of any church representatives, and if needed, let the churches request their own section of the TRC. Of course, that would reduce the churches to the same level as the native victims...and isn't that what the churches are trying to avoid.
If both groups were to meet privately, then the victim's group might, voluntarily, if and when they are ready, invite one or two from the other side to sit and to pray and to reflect...but only on the initiative of the individual victims. Victims have to come to their own stripe of forgiveness, if and when they are ready; the churches have to come to the place where they can forgive themselves, their predecessors, and their institution, and that might take more time than whatever the schedule calls for.
When the churches take off their mitres, and their chasables, and their albs and their cinctures and their titles and become "one" with their faithful, including their victims, perhaps some healing and reconciliation might occur.