Hon. Terry M. Mercer (Acting Leader of the Senate Liberals):
Senator Sinclair, as a practising Catholic of 72 years, I want to apologize. That’s all I can do myself. But I also want to say publicly how ashamed I am of my church. I’ve been an active Catholic. A long time ago I was a choir boy. My faith has been important in my life. At one time, I would be at mass every day for a long time. I don’t do that anymore, but I still practice my faith at least once a week.
I am ashamed of my church. I am ashamed of the people who run my church. I am ashamed of the Catholics who have allowed the church to do this. I am ashamed of all of us because the sins that were perpetrated upon Aboriginal people in this country, particularly the Aboriginal youth, did not happen in isolation. People knew. People had to know. People were in that community. It’s a shame that they did this.
I should say that I am also ashamed of the management of the Catholic Church in this city; I’m ashamed of the management of the Catholic Church in my own province; I’m ashamed of the management of the Catholic Church in this city because they’re not doing meeting their obligation of reconciliation.
It is a very difficult thing. My mother was a Catholic. My father was an Anglican. The church was very important in our family. My mother was active in the church. My brothers were altar boys when they were younger. God wouldn’t recognize them now.
It is a shame for those of us who are Catholics that every day when we listen to the debates on this subject or hear the news on this subject that we share the guilt, because it’s our faith. Every Sunday when I walk through the doors of whatever Catholic Church I go to, I always ask myself: Why do I keep doing this? Why do I keep going to a church that I’m not proud of? Why do I keep doing that?
I don’t go to the church because of the church but because of my relationship with my God, but it is embarrassing. Someday, if I ever get to meet God face to face, I’m going to ask him how he can allow those people to do that to those young children and how he could allow his church, my church, to do such a terrible job in reconciliation with them in this country.