Indigenous Reactions To The Pope's Apology | Crooked Media
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July 25, 2022
What A Day
Indigenous Reactions To The Pope's Apology

In This Episode

  • Pope Francis apologized on Monday to a crowd of survivors, advocates and others in Alberta, Canada, for the Catholic Church’s historic role in the mistreatment, abuse and even death of Indigenous children throughout the country. We wanted to put the spotlight on Indigenous people and how they reacted to the Pope’s apologies after decades of working for this moment.
  • And in headlines: a sixth, lesser-known co-defendant in the Central Park Five case was exonerated; Myanmar’s military executed four democracy activists; and a Brooklyn pastor was robbed during church services.


Show Notes:



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Josie Duffy Rice. It is Tuesday, July 26. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: And I’m Tre’vell Anderson, and this is What A Day, where we are getting ready to try out for the new season of the XFL.


Josie Duffy Rice. That’s right. All we have to do is learn the rules of football, and then I’m pretty sure we’re in.


Tre’vell Anderson: We also have to learn what the X stands for. I’m not familiar.


Josie Duffy Rice. X ray?


Tre’vell Anderson: Xylophone!


Josie Duffy Rice. Xylophone.


Tre’vell Anderson: First off, Josie, I am back from my Tre’vell world tour. I hope you missed me.


Josie Duffy Rice. I missed you desperately every second.


Tre’vell Anderson: Great answer. Love that. Now on to today’s show. We’ll talk about a sixth lesser known defendant in the Central Park Five who was exonerated yesterday. Plus, Hong Kong has new pedestrian crosswalks that light up the ground so people don’t have to look up from their phones while walking.


Josie Duffy Rice. That’s the–okay, you know, we’ll get to it. We’ll get to it. We’ll get to it. But first, Pope Francis apologized yesterday to a crowd of survivors, advocates, and others in Alberta for the Catholic Church’s role in the mistreatment, abuse, and even death of Indigenous children in Canada. As we talked about yesterday, for over a century, Indigenous children were forcibly separated from their families and sent to what were called residential schools, many of which were run by the Catholic Church, where they often suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Here’s Piita Irniq, and advocate and survivor of residential schools, talking yesterday about his experience to the CBC.


[clip of Piita Irniq] From the time that we were forcibly taken away from our parents, in August of 1958, I always prefer to say that I was kidnaped in broad daylight by a Roman Catholic priest, right in front of my parents, so that I could go to a residential school in Chesterfield Inlet. So I feel for my parents a great deal. I feel for a lot of things that happened at the residential school. I feel for our people, that we had a loss of culture, loss of language, loss of traditional religion, shamanism. We had a loss of parenting skills, which are very important to bringing up children. And we were sexually raped by the Roman Catholic clergy and grey nuns. So there there’s a lot of emotions that are going back from the time that I was first at the residential school.


Josie Duffy Rice. Just devastating.


Tre’vell Anderson: Absolutely. We wanted to put the spotlight on Indigenous people themselves and how they reacted to the pope’s apologies. Many of them have been working for decades to get to a moment like this. Here’s more of what Piita Irniq said to the CBC, but this time, after Pope Francis’s address.


[clip of Piita Irniq] The Pope’s apology represents the words that I wanted to hear for a long period of time also: healing and reconciliation. Not only did he say it once, but he said it a couple of times. So to me, his apology today will allow us survivors to begin a new chapter. I notice that this is a pope of change, so it makes me very happy that we’re going to be able to work together for the betterment of our people, not only for ourselves, but as well as for our children, as well as for our grandchildren and their children. So there is going to be a lot of work to promote better healing and reconciliation, and people around the country, the survivors of residential school, should talk about the impact of residential school in the past, because all Canadians have a right duty and responsibility to know what happened to us at the residential school. Because residential school is not only Indigenous history, but it is also a Canadian history. And a Vatican history.


Josie Duffy Rice. Yeah. That’s right, Tre’vell. I think making the point that a broader history is so important. You know, a lot of people appreciated the apology, but it didn’t really give them any sense of closure or peace. Right? In fact, many of the survivors interviewed by the CBC didn’t really know how to feel. Here’s Maureen Belanger, another survivor.


[clip of Maureen Belanger] It was very emotional. I don’t know, like do we celebrate. I’m just not quite sure. I have to digest all this. But it was very, very powerful to have him, you know, the leader of the Catholic organization, ask us for an apology and to forgive him. It was absolutely beautiful. And yet, while he was apologizing, you can’t help but think of still all the spirits that are unrest.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. That’s something I was thinking about, watching. If you watch the video, the weather is an interesting thing, and if you believe in the spirits like I do, somebody’s got something to say. Meanwhile, some of the folks there said the Pope missed the mark entirely. Chief Judy Wilson of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs said the apology could have been stronger and could have addressed this, quote, “papal bull” or decree, by the church called the Doctrine of Discovery. That’s this legal idea from the 1400s used by colonizers to justify taking over a land and its people, by claiming they, quote unquote, “discovered them.” Here’s Chief Wilson:


[clip of Chief Wilson] I didn’t hear one word of repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and renounce the papal bulls. And that’s ending the genocide. It was important, maybe to some to hear an apology, but at the heart of the matter is ending the genocide with the colonial impositions that have happened to our people and that are continuing to happen. It’s more than just the residential schools, the 215, the ones that didn’t come home–it’s about ending the oppression of the state governments, the Crown, and the Vatican. And if we cannot do that, we will remain in those colonial structures. We have to rid ourselves of those colonial structures that impose upon our people. But without the announcement of the Doctrine of Discovery, we’re locked in a colonial system, and we need to repudiate that so we can get on with the healing, most importantly, our sovereignty and our self-determination for our people. The Pope didn’t say it. He needed to say it, and he failed.


Josie Duffy Rice. Oh, wow. Those are just some of the voices of Indigenous people in Canada for Monday’s event with Pope Francis. He’s on a tour of the country through Friday to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the historic genocide of Indigenous people for generations. We’ll link to more of those interviews and videos in our show notes, but that’s the latest for now. We’ll be back after some ads.


[ad break]


Tre’vell Anderson: Let’s get to some headlines.


[sung] Headlines.


Tre’vell Anderson: A New York state judge exonerated Steven Lopez on Monday. He’s the sixth, lesser-known, codefendant in the Central Park five case from 1989. Many people don’t know this, but there were actually six kids of color who were wrongly convicted in this case, where a female jogger was sexually assaulted in New York City. Lopez was arrested and interrogated like the other boys when he was just 15-years old. And in 1991, authorities pressured him to plead guilty to a robbery charge in a separate case to avoid getting charged with the rape. Lopez took the deal, and he served roughly three years in prison. Even after the real culprit of the assault was found and after the Central Park Five were exonerated, Lopez’s robbery charge remained on his record until yesterday. Lopez declined to comment on his exoneration in court on Monday, but Raymond Santana, one of the Central Park Five, said on Monday that, quote, “It’s only right that he’s exonerated. He’s due that.” We’ll link to a New York Times story in our show now so you can dive deeper into Lopez’s story.


Josie Duffy Rice. Almost 30 years. Unbelievable. Myanmar’s military junta executed four democracy activists on Monday, marking the first time the country has used capital punishment in decades. Among the dead are well-known activist Ko Jimmy and lawmaker Phyo Zeya Thaw. All four were killed after the junta accused the group of committing, quote, “terror acts”, but many human rights groups say that those allegations are baseless and leaders of the international community have condemned the killings. Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar’s former pro-democracy president who was arrested and ousted from office in last year’s coup, said she was saddened to hear the news of the executions. Meanwhile, one of the activist’s mothers said that she was shocked to hear of her son’s death because she saw him just days before he was executed. In an interview, she said, quote, “I didn’t think they would kill him. I didn’t believe it.”


Tre’vell Anderson: Three of the nation’s biggest poultry producers agreed to settle with the Justice Department on Monday, over claims of a long-standing scheme to underpay their workers. The department says in its lawsuit that the three farms–Cargill, Sanderson Farms, and Wayne Farms–conspired to trade info about workers’ salaries, and by doing so, they were able to cut several of their benefits and avoid paying a competitive wage. And it was easy for them to get away with it because the workforce of the three companies combined makes up 90% of all chicken processing jobs in the U.S. These companies are set to pay over $84 million all together to resolve the antitrust lawsuits against them. The DOJ might be too chicken to charge Donald Trump with a crime, but they are focused on investigating widespread labor abuses in the poultry industry–so I guess we count this as a win, maybe?


Josie Duffy Rice. Hard to tell. Hard to tell. You no longer need to look up from your phone to avoid getting hit by a car. Yep. You heard me. Hong Kong crosswalks are getting safer with the addition of red lights intended to be seen even while you are texting. Hong Kong recently installed crosswalks that bathed the edge of the sidewalk, along with anyone standing there, in a red light when the “don’t walk” signal is on. Seven crosswalks have been equipped with these lights and will be monitored over the next six months in hopes of a larger rollout. Mainland China has already done something similar in many major cities, with LED lights that shine up from the road–don’t worry, technology is here to fix all of the problems that technology created.


Tre’vell Anderson: A Brooklyn pastor, Limor Miller-Whitehead, who goes simply by Bishop, was robbed during church services this past weekend. But the thing is that the whole world could see it happen because the service was being livestreamed at the time. Before a congregation of at least a couple of dozen people at the Leaders of Tomorrow church, he and his wife were robbed by three men of their jewelry totaling more than $1 million. Mm hmm.


Josie Duffy Rice. Correct.


Tre’vell Anderson: Here is audio of the moment Bishop sees the gunmen, who force him to the floor.


[clip of Bishop] What you are about to go through–yo, yo. All right, right, right.


Tre’vell Anderson: Bishop, who media outlets have previously referred to as, quote, “the bling-bling Bishop” now believes that pastors should be able to get a permit to carry a gun while they are preaching.


Josie Duffy Rice. Oh, my God.


Tre’vell Anderson: Bishop claims to be a mentee of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and said that he had already received a call from Adams, who has pledged his support in finding the suspects. No word on if the mayor is in support of packing churches with gun-wielding pastors. Yikes.


Josie Duffy Rice. Okay. There’s a lot here. $1 million in jewelry while you’re preaching, carrying a gun while you’re preaching, Mayor Eric Adams–there’s just so much going on in such a little bit of space. It’s just almost wonderful.


Tre’vell Anderson: Yeah. Yeah.


Josie Duffy Rice. Oh, boy. And those are the headlines. One more thing before we go: if strengthening democracy while you caffeinate sounds like the ideal morning routine, you have to check out Crooked coffee. It’s delicious premium coffee–we had it this morning at my house–and we’re donating a portion of the proceeds to Register Her, to help women across the country get registered to vote yes.


Tre’vell Anderson: The new best part of waking up is Crooked coffee in your cup. To learn more and get your Crooked coffee, head over to Crooked’s dot com slash coffee.


Josie Duffy Rice. That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe, leave a review, tell the Pope to apologize harder, and tell your friends to listen.


Tre’vell Anderson: And if you’re into reading, and not just while walking in a crosswalk like me, What A Day is also a nightly newsletter. Check it out and subscribe at I’m Tre’vell Anderson.


Josie Duffy Rice. I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


[together] And pastors, please leave your bling at home!


Tre’vell Anderson: –if you should have it at all in the first place.


Josie Duffy Rice. That story is shocking it’s in New York. Sounds like a real Atlanta pastor story to me. I am proud of New York for leading the way now in pastors with too much money. What A Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Jazzy Marine and Raven Yamamoto are our associate producers. Our head writer is Jon Millstein, and our executive producer is Leo Duran. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.