Pope Francis to travel to Canada for Indigenous reconciliation, Vatican says – National – .

Pope Francis to travel to Canada for Indigenous reconciliation, Vatican says – National – .

Pope Francis has agreed to travel to Canada to support ongoing efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples following shocking revelations about the role of the Catholic Church in the abuse and death of thousands of Indigenous children, a the Vatican declared Wednesday.

In a brief statement, the Holy See press office said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the Pope to make an apostolic trip to Canada “also in the context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with the peoples. indigenous “. The statement did not cite why the reconciliation process was necessary.

In return, François “indicated his willingness to go to the country at a date to be fixed in due time,” the statement said.

The pilgrimage could be the occasion for a papal apology that has been requested by many in Canada.

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Francis had already agreed to meet with Indigenous survivors of Canada’s infamous residential schools in December amid calls for a papal apology for the role of the Catholic Church. At that time, the bishops’ conference said the pontiff had invited delegations to the Vatican and would separately meet with three groups – First Nations, Métis and Inuit – during their visit from December 17 to 20. The Pope will then preside over a final audience with the three groups on December 20.

Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins said on Wednesday that the December meetings would help lay the groundwork for the Canadian pilgrimage. “Over the course of several days, through genuine listening and dialogue, Pope Francis will directly hear from those who have suffered,” the cardinal said in a statement.

Collins said his country’s bishops apologized earlier this year as they “sadly acknowledge the historical and ongoing trauma and legacy of suffering and challenges facing indigenous peoples who continue to do so.” day ”.

The cardinal added that he prayed that the Pope’s visit would allow healing and dialogue to continue “through authentic encounters of compassion, understanding and reconciliation”.

The lingering shame of residential schools

The lingering shame of residential schools – October 9, 2021

Earlier this year, Canadian investigators using ground-penetrating radar reported finding hundreds of anonymous graves at the sites of two residential schools for Indigenous children. The finds – more than 600 graves in one school, 215 bodies in another – have reignited calls, including from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for the Pope to issue a formal apology.

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From the 19th century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were forced to attend publicly funded Christian residential schools as part of a campaign to assimilate them into Canadian society. Thousands of children died there from disease and other causes; others have never returned to their families.

Almost three-quarters of the 130 boarding schools were run by Catholic missionary congregations. Others were led by the Presbyterian, Anglican and United Church of Canada, which today is the largest Protestant denomination in the country.

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The Canadian government formally apologized for the politics and the abuse in 2008. In addition, the Presbyterian, Anglican and United churches apologized for their role in the abuse.

Responding to the Vatican announcement on Wednesday, Canadian Indigenous Relations Minister Mark Miller said he expected the pontiff to “fully recognize the harm done to Indigenous peoples.”

“In the grand scheme of what we call the reconciliation of Indigenous peoples, this full recognition is something long awaited from the Holy Father himself,” Miller said.

The newly elected president of the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Raymond Poisson, expressed the hope that the Pope’s visit to Canada “will be an important step in the journey towards reconciliation and healing”.

© 2021 The Canadian Press


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