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Opinion: Verses offer Church a path to justice and reconciliation in aftermath of residential school tragedy

Kamloops residential school CP
The outside of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School.

If an apology by the Catholic Church for the residential school horrors is not forthcoming, if the Church as an institution cannot by tradition be held as the agent of sin, but if there is any reconsideration of this seemingly baffling approach, there is recommended reading to help guide the eventual decision.

What would good books advise in these circumstances? How might a decision be advanced were there an examination of their insights and advice? There are dozens of inspirational passages.

First, let us agree on the principle of the matter, the greater objective at stake.

Romans 14:19 So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another.

This is a community broken by tragedy systemically imposed. It seeks peaceable reconciliation. The perpetrators might be gone, but the overriding goal remains practical in providing an apology – and the mercy and compassion it brings – as part of an administering of justice.

Zechariah 7:9 This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.’

For what we all know:

Proverbs 21:15 When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.

It is said to be evident in the benefit of the consistency of action:

Psalm 106:3 Blessed are those who act justly, who always do what is right.

It is thus an important calling, a guide, but with the benefit that confers comes a responsibility:

Deuteronomy 16:20 Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.

The objects of this applied responsibility are directly within this grieving, traumatized community, so the passages implore a wide definition:

Psalm 82: 3 Give justice to the weak and fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

Further:

Proverbs 31: 8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

After all:

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

While the Church’s leader professes “closeness” with Canadians traumatized by the discovery of the Kamloops graves, most would see a dilemma in the theological reticence as he is called at this moment to use his authority to open his heart and respect the wishes of our First Nation, indeed of the country:

John 3:17-18 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

There is no concealing how this community has abided these principles in its own struggles, how it continues to find institutional response insufficient, how it has held its end up in the covenant but finds failure in the institutional response.

Luke 6:27-42 But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

The repetitive chorus of incantation throughout the passages leaves no doubt of the road best travelled.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

No matter your reluctance, one is asked above all else:

Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

And:

Psalm 34:14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

The Indigenous community can look to the readings and find validation of their concerns:

Psalm 6:2 Have mercy on me, Lord, because I’m frail. Heal me, Lord, because my bones are shaking in terror!”

We are told of the power that this ministering can deliver.

Psalm 147:3 God heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds.

Yet it requires leadership in the opportunity presented, and this is where today we find the institution lacking, whether out of its fear of litigation or out of adherence to theological history. Still:

Psalm 12:5 Because of the devastation of the afflicted, because of the groaning of the needy, “Now I will arise,” says the Lord; “I will set him in the safety for which he longs.”

After all, it is advised:

Deuteronomy 16:20 Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

And we are all encouraged:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you. My peace I give you. I give to you not as the world gives. Don’t be troubled or afraid.

The non-presence of an apology might be temporary, steeped in institutional tradition or in slow process, so it does not reflect the contemporary expectation of swift social media-like response. But it is hoped the apology comes, for it will have its impact:

Amos 5:24 But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

Kirk LaPointe is publisher and editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.