Pope Francis will travel to Canada at the end of July, where he is expected to meet Native survivors of the abuses committed in church boarding schools, the Vatican. said Friday.
The 85-year-old, who travels to the cities of Edmonton, Québec and Iqaluit, apologized last month to indigenous delegations who visited him in the Vatican over a scandal that has upset the Catholic Church.
Numerous investigations of the former residential schools have taken place following unmarked mass graves, with more than 4,000 children believed to be missing.
Further details of the July 24-30 visit will be announced in the coming weeks, the Vatican said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that a “formal personal apology” from the head of the Roman Catholic Church to survivors and their families would be an important step “in promoting meaningful reconciliation for Indigenous peoples in our country”.
Francis said earlier that he was eager to visit Canada, but the trip was uncertain due to a painful knee problem that forced him to start using a wheelchair.
A visit to Lebanon scheduled for June was postponed earlier this month due to health concerns.
However, the Argentine pontiff confirmed on Friday that he would travel to South Sudan “in a few weeks”, accompanied by the Church of England ‘s most senior clerk, Archbishop Justin Welby.
– ‘Healing’ –
The Canadian Episcopal Conference on Friday said picking three visiting communities would limit travel for the aging Pope, while “still allowing for personal and public contacts” with people from all regions of the country.
Edmonton has the second largest number of Indigenous Peoples living in Canadian urban centers, and about 25 boarding schools were located in Alberta, the largest of any province or territory in Canada, he said.
Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre is located in Quebec, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America.
Iqaluit, on the great Baffin Island, is the capital of Nunavut territory, home to many indigenous Inuit.
It is also an area in the Arctic region of the country where climate change – a priority for the Pope – is taking place three times faster than the global average.
The Pope’s visit will coincide with the Feast Day of St. Anne of Canada on July 26, dedicated to the maternal grandmother of Jesus.
Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canadian bishops were “extremely grateful” for the Pope’s visit to “continue the journey of healing and reconciliation”.
Francis is expected to once again accept his apology to survivors of school abuse and relatives of victims.
Approximately 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 1800s to the 1990s in 139 boarding schools across Canada, as part of government policy of compulsory assimilation.
They spent months or years isolated from their families, language and culture, and many suffered physical and sexual abuse from leaders and teachers.
In April, Francis slammed the “ideological colonization” of which “so many children were victims”.
“Your identity and culture are wounded, many families are separated,” he said.
Thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition or neglect. Schools have found more than 1,300 unmarked graves since May 2021.
A truth and reconciliation commission ruled in 2015 that the government’s failed policy amounted to “cultural genocide”.
Pope to visit Canada in July amid schools abuse scandal – The Citizen Source link Pope to visit Canada in July amid schools abuse scandal – The Citizen