Mississauga pastor resigns amid backlash over comments on Canada’s residential schools

A Mississauga pastor has resigned amid backlash over controversial comments that he made about Canada’s residential schools.

The Archdiocese of Toronto tweeted Friday that Cardinal Thomas Collins accepted Monsignor Owen Keenan’s resignation and placed him on an “indefinite leave of absence.”

“We apologize for the pain caused by his recent remarks,” the tweet concluded.

Read more: Mississauga priest faces public backlash over comments about Canada’s residential schools

Keenan, of Merciful Redeemer Parish, a Catholic church located in the area of Glen Erin Drive and Erin Centre Boulevard, came under fire earlier this week for controversial remarks that he delivered to his parish.

Keenan said that two-thirds of the country blames the church for the tragedies that occurred in residential schools and went on to suggest some would not agree.

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“I presume that the same number would thank the church for the good that was done in those schools. In fact, we’re not allowed to say that good was done in those schools,” he said during a service last weekend.

Read more: Estimated 751 unmarked graves found at former Saskatchewan residential school

The comments drew sharp criticism from Indigenous communities and from Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

Prior to his resignation, Keenan apologized in a written statement.

His remarks came amid recent discoveries of 215 unmarked burial sites at a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., and an estimated 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval residential school in Saskatchewan.

The Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program has a hotline to help residential school survivors and their relatives suffering with trauma invoked by the recall of past abuse. The number is 1-866-925-4419.

— With files from Morganne Campbell

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