Petition urges that the Catholic Church’s charitable status be revoked due to the response to the residential school.

Catholic Church
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Thousands of people have signed an online petition demanding that the Catholic Church’s charitable status be revoked in reaction to its handling of the residential school case. It comes on the heels of announcements from specific jurisdictions exploring various actions, such as withdrawing subsidies or abolishing property tax exemptions for the Catholic Church.

According to petition organizer David Thomson, the church has deceived survivors and the only thing that would prompt change is a financial penalty. So far, almost 6,000 individuals have signed the petition on Thomson, who lives in Vancouver, has spent much of his career in the philanthropic sector. He was highly moved by reports of unmarked graves discovered at residential school sites in Kamloops, B.C., Cowessess First Nation in Saskatchewan, and elsewhere in Canada.

Thomson was also irritated to see that certain Catholic organizations are only now considering a full release of residential school materials many of which have yet to be released.

He became even outraged when he found that the church was spending more than $300 million on development projects while telling a judge that it couldn’t raise $25 million for survivors. He also expressed dissatisfaction with claims that millions of cash intended for survivors were diverted to Catholic Church attorneys, administration, and bad loans.

Thomson, as a non-Indigenous person, asked what he could do, arguing that it is not fair for Indigenous people to bear the entire responsibility of fighting for justice. That’s when he came up with the concept for a petition.

Thomson said he’s heard the “excuse” that just specific Catholic organizations are to blame, but he doesn’t agree. He said that the United, Anglican, and Presbyterian churches all made a “sincere attempt” to accept national responsibility for the harm done by the residential school system. This involves the release of all papers as well as payment of the full compensation amount.

Thomson believes that if the church does the right thing, it can always restore its charitable status. According to a representative for the Canada Revenue Agency, a suspension would need an inquiry and a hearing to prove an organization breached the terms of its charitable status.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops stated in an emailed statement that the route to reconciliation includes listening and collaboration between Indigenous people and parties involved in residential schools. According to the report, one of those examples is securing a pope visit to the Vatican in December with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit delegations to lay the groundwork for a formal apology in Canada. The CCCB, on the other hand, opposes activism that pits the interests of residential school survivors against any religious institution, including the Catholic Church.

Following the discovery of unmarked graves, Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell has strongly condemned the Catholic Church. He says he intends to propose a proposal at an upcoming council meeting to repeal the city’s land tax exemption for churches. . According to Bell, some churchgoers and priests are opposed to the move, but he has the support of many Inuit community members.

Okanagan Indian Band Chief Byron Louis also plans to propose a motion to eliminate the yearly $17,000 subsidy his First Nation near Vernon, British Columbia, provides to the local Catholic diocese for church upkeep and repair bills.