A Mississauga pastor has resigned and been placed on “indefinite leave” in the wake of making controversial comments about the residential school system.
In a statement Friday night, the Archdiocese of Toronto, Cardinal Collins, said Monsignor Owen Keenan’s resignation has been accepted and he was placed on the leave.
“Regarding Msgr. Owen Keenan, Pastor of Merciful Redeemer Parish in Mississauga, Ont. Cardinal Collins has accepted Msgr. Keenan’s resignation as pastor and placed him on an indefinite leave of absence. We apologize for the pain caused by his recent remarks,” read a tweet from the Archdiocese of Toronto.
The resignation came after video surfaced last week of Keenan defending the Catholic Church and talking about how “many people had very positive experiences (at) residential schools.”
In the video, Keenan said: “I presume the same number would thank the Church for the good that was done in those schools, but of course that question was never asked. And in fact, we are not allowed to even say that good was done in those schools.”
In the video, followed the discovery of unmarked graves at a former residential school in British Columbia, Keenan also said: “We don’t know how those children died. We don’t and can’t know if they would have died had they stayed at home.”
Keenan later apologized, telling CP24 in a statement: “I am deeply sorry, embarrassed, ashamed and shocked at the revelations of abuse, destruction and harm done in residential schools across this country.”
“As a Catholic and a priest, I in no way condone the residential school system, I regret deeply that these places existed, and I lament the harm that was caused,” Keenan said. “If and when I get a chance to meet survivors, I will seek their forgiveness.”
The church was vandalized Thursday.
The Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll free line is: 1-(800)-721-0066.