More unmarked graves discovered in Canada as church vandalism continues

Also on Wednesday, a fire was reported and extinguished before it caused damage to St. Kateri Tekakwitha church on Sipekne’katik First Nation land in Nova Scotia. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating both incidents. 

On June 24 in Mississauga, Ontario, a church was spray painted with anti-Catholic rhetoric. The graffiti was removed shortly after it was discovered.  

And on June 26, a statue of St. John Paul II at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Edmonton was vandalized with red spray paint. The vandal or vandals used the paint to make red handprints on the statue. 

Earlier this week, the number “1321”— a possible reference to the number of unmarked graves discovered at that point— was painted in large red letters on an outer wall of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Denver. The graffiti was promptly removed, and CNA could not confirm that the Denver vandalism was connected to the revelations in Canada. 

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The initial discovery of the graves in May led leaders of the Assembly of First Nations and the Métis National Council to plan a visit to the Vatican, with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, to request a formal papal apology for the Church’s role in the residential school system.

Canadian bishops have recently issued apologies for the Church’s role in the residential school system, including Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, Archbishop Marcel Damphousse of Ottawa, and Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver. In 2014, bishops of the province of Alberta apologized to indigenous communities.

Some Canadian bishops, along with indigenous leaders, will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican in December 2021, according to the Canadian bishops’ conference.

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