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Let us sow together: A Catholic’s response to the Church’s apology to Native Americans

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Let us sow together: A Catholic’s response to the Church’s apology to Native Americans

Commentary by Lisa Ormond | FāVS News

“Give us the wisdom to teach our children to love, to respect and to be kind to one another so that we may grow with peace in mind.

Native American Prayer

I read with much interest Becky Tallent’s commentary published in FāVS News about the 56-page U.S. Catholic bishops public apology for the church’s role in American Indian boarding schools from 1819-1970. She was not satisfied with the merits of the apology. I felt the spear-to-the-heart in reading her words. Much emotion — a mixture of bitterness, frustration, suffering and little-to-no peace. Her commentary is important and relevant. I’d also recommend reading these news story summaries and viewpoints about the June 14 announcement written by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) and The Washington Post for context. 

Respectfully, I seek to understand

Trying to educate myself and learn more, left me empty inside with a deep remorse for all those involved, touched and wronged by the atrocities of federal legislation established 150 years ago by immoral government leaders and carried out across this nation by American men and women of cloaks and crosses. This unconscionable history lesson makes no sense. 

I am no expert on this lesson, and I have so much to learn. What I do know is I do not want to lose sight of this story that likely will never be finished in its telling in my lifetime. It will likely continue in perpetuity because of the wounds and scars it left upon the Indigenous people affected. How could it not?

But first…

My heart asks for forgiveness

I want to apologize for my ignorance.

I want to apologize for my inattentiveness.

I want to apologize for the American cowards of the past — many who were Christians — who did not challenge and attempt to stop these policies and even worse just ‘went along’ showing no moral compass. 

I want to apologize to all U.S. Native Americans whose cultures, identities, families and lives were taken and destroyed. I am truly sorry.

I want nothing more than to ‘right’ these horrific wrongs done. I cannot. This hurts me.

Please help me understand how to help you now.

Humble reflections about the Catholic Church’s apology

Sadly, for me, a devout Catholic, there were more questions than answers that arose in my mind in terms of their indisputable role and impact in forcing colonization and thus generational trauma of Native Americans. But I thank the Church for finally having the courage to speak.

  • I do believe AN apology is better than none. However, their words of repentance should have been offered long ago.
  • No words will bring true reconciliation, I imagine. Action will. Let’s hope with conviction there will be church trickle-down follow-up for implementation.
  • This apology should have been spoken by a bishop representative publicly and in person on camera. It would have offered more credibility and shown more true remorse. It seemed there was a bit of ‘hiding’ behind the 56-page document.
  • I wished the bishops chose to create a one-page apology document that was clear, concise and caring — not just a historical review and instruction manual. Just say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness. My ‘hunt’ through their research-like, thesis document discovered an assemblance of an actual ‘apology’ around page 45. That pains me.

Voices of hope and healing

I want to recognize and appreciate others in our society taking steps to offer healing to boarding school survivors, their families and Native communities in general. Here are a few examples (in addition to the U.S. Catholic Bishop apology) I noticed and am thankful for based on the principles of truth, justice and healing.

On my knees, I cry

Tears have a predominant role in spiritual life. In them, we can find compassion and the will to act to alleviate suffering. Such tears and sobs of people of all ages level us back to our common humanity. Like authentic laughter, tears can offer a place of deep knowing and communion — liberation as we cry and grieve together as well as strengthening our bonds with one another and revealing solidarity.

May we all be blessed with a pool of tears shed in repentance and love that offers interconnectedness s— now and in the years to come about this story of our country, of our Indigenous people. May we never forget and instead seek to sow together a new path forward of forgiveness, peace and purpose. Afterall, we are the only creatures God made on this planet capable of expressing distress or joy through tears. Please, let us continue to let them fall for healing and ask for grace for momentum forward.     


The views expressed in this opinion column are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of FāVS News. FāVS News values diverse perspectives and thoughtful analysis on matters of faith and spirituality.

Lisa Ormond
Lisa Ormond
Lisa has a journalism degree from California State University, Northridge. She looks back on her career to date fondly having worked in various California broadcast news organizations, insurance public affairs and at both Washington State University and the University of Idaho. Lisa has an insatiable curiosity, love for learning and a passion for helping and giving to others. Born and raised in urban California, Lisa has joyfully lived on the Palouse for nearly 14 years. She cherishes the people, the lifestyle, the vibe and the beauty it offers. When not caring for her family and their crazy chickens, she volunteers, writes poetry, creates wood and rock art pieces and putters about her peaceful farm, which fascinates and inspires her daily. Spiritual growth is a priority in her life and a pathway for living peacefully with herself, others and her Lord.

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