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Church leaders must rebut false residential school claims – not just repent

By Rodney A. Clifton

The German pastor, theologian, and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer reportedly said that “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

From the middle of the 1930s, Bonhoeffer was trying to wake the German Lutheran Church to the impending crisis that eventually resulted in the Holocaust. In fact, he spent his last couple of years trying to bring the German church to oppose the genocide. Bonhoeffer was hung by the Nazis about a month before the war ended.

Is Bonhoeffer’s warning relevant to Canada?

Many Canadians seem to believe that employees of the churches that managed most of the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) engaged in genocide against Indigenous children.

The Chief Commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Justice Murray Sinclair, told host Matt Galloway on the CBC radio program The Current that between 15,000 and 25,000 Indigenous children are missing from these schools. In Justice Sinclair’s mind, a genocide had taken place.

Even more damning, the House of Commons, including members of all political parties, passed a motion by NDP MP Leah Gazan that claimed that the IRS system was a genocide against Indigenous children.

No evidence was presented, but the motion passed unanimously without debate.


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