This video was produced right around the time when devastating news broke about the discovery of the remains of 215 children buried on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School. It was a dreadful reminder of not only the past atrocities of the residential school system instigated and perpetuated by both state and church institutions, but also a convicting call to take a hard look at the dubious legacy of these institutions in their ongoing relations with First Nations peoples.
In the wake of such dark revelations, the subject of this video seems at best to be poorly timed, and at worst, distastefully insensitive. For if we were to acknowledge the Church’s historical role in the residential school system and really confront its guilt in the fullest measure as we ought to, how could we possibly go on defending it in the same breath, or even dare to say that the Church has been and continues to be a force of good in the world?
And yet, now more than ever, the central question explored in this video is of utmost importance. Those of you watching may not agree with everything or anything that I’ve said, and that’s okay. As a follower of Jesus Christ committed to his mission of announcing God’s love and salvation to the world, I am also committed to the belief that the Church is, by its very identity and purpose, for the good and life of the world. At the same time, I’m also like any other person in the world struggling to reconcile the ideals I trust in with the grim realities that surround them. Through my own attempts to give reasons for my continued belief in the Church in spite of its mixed legacy, my hope is to establish a common place of understanding, wherein people can freely decide for themselves whether faith in Jesus and commitment to his Church can still be considered good news for their lives. No words can justify the residential schools and the Christian institutions that administered and perpetuated them.
No words ought to. Evil is evil. We must do our part to name it and condemn it wherever and whenever we find it, especially when we uncover it in our own ranks. God alone will judge what has been done, and we believe he is the Good judge who sees into the heart of all people and deals with them mercifully or wrathfully, all according to their due.