Justin Trudeau says he is disappointed with the Pope's decision not to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in residential schools and the trauma experienced by their students.
"This is something that we have to remember reconciliation is not just between government and Indigenous peoples," Trudeau said Wednesday on Parliament Hill. "It’s between non-Indigenous Canadians and Indigenous peoples as well, and we will keep working with communities, keep working with individuals on the path of reconciliation because we know that taking responsibility for past mistakes and asking forgiveness is something that is core to our values as Canadians."
A letter released Tuesday by the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops says Pope Francis has not shied away from recognizing injustices faced by Indigenous peoples around the world, but that he can't personally apologize for residential schools.
An apology from the church was one of the 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the prime minister asked the Pope to consider the gesture when he visited the Vatican last year.
The church has offered apologies in the past, including in 2010 to Irish victims of sexual abuse and in 2015 to Indigenous peoples in the Americas for the "grave sins" of colonialism.
Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett has said the government will keep pushing for a papal apology. On Wednesday she also expressed disappointment and said she expects Catholics will continue to push their church as well because of how important an apology is to survivors.
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed "sorrow" for abuses experienced by Indigenous children in Catholic-run residential schools.
"Sorrow is not enough," Bennett said Wednesday. "Sorrow is never enough. One has to take responsibility for the harm that was done, not only to the children that were taken but for the families left behind and what happened to them."
— Editor's note: This story was updated at 2:12 p.m. EST with comments from the Minister of Indigenous Relations.