Pope Francis, Kicks Off First Day Of Historic Visit To Canada
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Pope Francis, Kicks Off First Day Of Historic Visit To Canada

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Pope Francis will visit several Indigenous communities making historic apologies for the Catholic Church’s role in Residential Schools

Pope Francis has arrived in Canada to apologize in person for the abuse suffered by Indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic Church. Francis’ visit will see him make stops in Edmonton, Quebec, and Iqaluit.

Last month, Francis made a historic apology for the abuse in Canada’s church-run residential schools and expressed sorrow and shame for the lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture, and spiritual values. 

Here is the schedule for the week-long trip:

  • The Pope lands in Canada on July 24
  • Meeting with Indigenous people at the former Ermineskin Residential school in Maskwacis
  • A meeting with Indigenous people at Sacred Heart Church of the First people in Edmonton on July 25

On July 26, the Pope celebrates Holy Mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and Pilgrimage to the site of Lac Ste. Anne, Alta. 

  • On July 27, the Pope will arrive in Quebec City, give a public address at the Citadelle, and tour the Plains of Abraham.
  •  On July 28, the Pope will attend a Holy Mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre and lead the vespers service of evening prayer at Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec. 
  • On July 29, the Pope arrives in Iqaluit, meets with residential school survivors, takes a tour of Iqaluit with community members, then departs Canada. 

“The locations will limit travel for the Holy Father while still allowing an opportunity for both intimate and public encounters, drawing on participation from all regions of the country,″ the statement said.

Pan Palmater, Chair in Indigenous Governance at Toronto Metropolitan University, says the Pope needs to offer “fulsome acceptance of responsibility” for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, which saw the widespread cause of abuse and neglect. Palmater also wants to see the Church take accountability for not sharing information and documents relating to residential schools and holding abusers accountable. “That should all come before a heartfelt apology,” she said. 

Indigenous people say they hope the pontiff goes beyond delivering a simple apology and while some survivors need to hear the Pope’s apology for their own personal healing, Palmater noted that not all Indigenous people are eager to see him in Canada. 

Trudeau said that a formal, in-person apology, would be “an important – and necessary – step for the Roman Catholic Church to continue engaging in dialogue with First Nations, Inuit, and Metis in order to advance meaningful reconciliation for Indigenous Peoples in our country.”

“For far too long, this has been a burden carried by Indigenous Peoples alone. I encourage all Canadians to watch this historic moment and reflect on the impacts of colonialism,” Trudeau said of the upcoming papal visit. 

With an official apology to Canada’s Indigenous people on Indigenous land by Pope Francis, it will be another step toward reconciliation and healing recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Committee.

Image source Vatican News