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Pope Francis’ Trip of Reconciliation in Canada

Christopher White, Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter, joins FutureChurch to discuss Pope Francis’ long overdue, yet historic, penitential pilgrimage to apologize to the Indigenous peoples of Canada for the role the Catholic Church played in their forced assimilation, genocidal violence, and physical and spiritual abuse, especially in residential schools.

Christopher traveled with the pope and shares what saw, heard, and experienced and shares his insights on what he thinks will likely happen next.

Slide show photo credit: Catholic News Service.

Christopher White is the Vatican correspondent for NCR. His e-mail address is Follow him on Twitter: @CWWhiteNCR.

Prior to moving to Rome in August 2021, he served as NCR’s national correspondent, where his award winning reporting included coverage of the Catholic vote during the 2020 campaign and the election of President Joe Biden. He holds a master’s degree in ethics and society from Fordham University and a bachelor’s degree in politics, philosophy and economics from The King’s College. His work has appeared in Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Forbes, Foreign Policy, New York Daily News, International Business Times, among many other print and online publications. He has regularly appeared on television and radio programs, including CBC, CNN, NPR, RTE and BBC, and is a Vatican analyst for NBC and MSNBC News.

The Crisis of Catholic Communications

David Gibson, longtime Catholic journalist and currently director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham University, discusses his recent National Catholic Reporter article on the decision by the USCCB to shutter Catholic News Service and what it says about their financial priorities, their pastoral priorities, and the entire project of evangelization and communications.

David Gibson was appointed the director of the Center on Religion and Culture at Fordham in July 2017, coming to New York’s Jesuit university after a long career as an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He’s also a convert to Catholicism, and came by all those vocations by accident, or Providence, working at the English Program at Vatican Radio in Rome in the late 1980s. He returned to the United States in 1990 and worked for newspapers in the New York area and has written for a variety of magazines and periodicals. He is the author of two books on Catholicism: The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping a New American Catholicism, and The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World. Before coming to Fordham, Gibson worked for six years as a national reporter at Religion News Service specializing in coverage of the Vatican and the Catholic Church. Gibson is a frequent media commentator and op-ed writer on topics related to the Catholic Church and religion in America.

Dark Money in the U.S. Catholic Church


National Catholic Reporter’s Brian Fraga joins FutureCurch to speak on the web of “dark money” flowing from conservative and right wing sources to Catholic organizations in the United States. Several of these same donors have also funneled money to far-right groups that the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League have described as white nationalist organizations. Some of those recipients worked to spread false information about election fraud and were involved in planning demonstrations that preceded the Jan. 6, 2021, assault at the United States Capitol.

Brian Fraga is a staff reporter at National Catholic Reporter. He covers news pertaining to the Catholic Church in the United States. He was previously a contributing editor at Our Sunday Visitor and has written for a variety of Catholic publications over the last decade. Brian was also a reporter for daily newspapers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Mexico.

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Residential Schools and the Catholic Church


The legacy of Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous peoples — a system of education remained in operation for over a century (from approximately 1876 to the final school closure in 1996) — left generations broken by the experience. The Truth and Reconciliation Report of 2015 convincingly argues that the residential school system was an integral part of a larger government initiative that amounted to an attempt at “cultural genocide,” in that its goal was the eradication of Indigenous cultures. The Catholic Church was responsible for the operation of the majority of the schools, with a large number, including some of the most notorious, run specifically by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Dr. D.W. Lafferty writes that when he first learned of the residential school issue, he initially dismissed the findings and demands of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and saw the emphasis on residential schools as a one-sided attack on the Church; eventually, though, I took the time to learn and listen, and it changed my mind completely. He hopes his perspective may be helpful given that there are still North American Catholics who are skeptical and in some cases dismiss the experiences of Indigenous peoples. He will discuss the general history, the response of the Catholic Church, and the mood of Canadians today.

The Munich Abuse Report

Christian Weisner and Renate Holmes of We Are Church Germany discuss the newly-released Munich Report on clergy sex abuse and the role Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI played in the coverup when he was archbishop of Munich. The report also found that other prelates including the close ally of Pope Francis, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, were at fault.

The Munich Report is the result of the German church commission of law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl to investigate wrongdoing. The firm examined church files and questioned witnesses and on Wednesday, January 20th, they released their report documenting then Cardinal Joseph Ratizinger’s “wrongdoing” in his handling of sexual abuse cases during his time as prelate in the archdiocese of Munich between 1977 and 1982. During the investigation, the pope emeritus provided more than 80 pages of documentation to the law firm. The retired pope has denied any personal wrongdoing.

Christian Weisner is on the leadership team of We Are Church Germany. Since his youth he has been shaped by the Second Vatican Council. He has been involved in community youth work, the Catholic student community and the Catholic base community. From 1991 to 1996 he was a member of the coordination committee of the Church from Below Initiative, co-initiator of the church people’s initiative in 1995, and co-founder of the international movement We are Church in Rome in 1996. Since then he has been in the leadership of the Church People’s Movement We are Church; co-organizer of several parallel synods in Rome; and worked as a journalist/reporter for We are Church Internationalthe 2005 and 2013 conclaves in Rome. Born in 1951, he lives with his family in Dachau near Munich.

Renate Holmes is also an active member of We Are Church Germany from its beginning and has held many leadership roles over the years. She is 58 years old and was trained and worked as a teacher for English and Religious Education at a grammar school in Munich for 25 years. For the last six years she has taught young refugees and migrants in a Munich school especially set up for this group of young people to enable them to get a school degree. Renate is a member of Amnesty International and works as a volunteer in a fair trade shop once a month. She is married to Christian Weisner and they have a daughter who is 24 years old and works for a German NGO for civil sea rescue in Berlin.