Canadian Indigenous delegation to meet with Pope Francis later this year

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After preparing for over two years, a delegation of Canadian Indigenous people will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican before the end of the year.

 

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement stating that the pastoral visit by the Indigenous delegation will include “the participation of a diverse group of Elders/Knowledge Keepers, residential school survivors and youth from across the country.”

The Bishops have been in conversation with Indigenous people and communities, both at the local and national levels, and bilaterally with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit national organizations. The Bishops who are sponsoring this project have been preparing for over two years now, but the pandemic stalled the project. The Bishops are determined to see this project reach its fruition, so as to ” provide Pope Francis with a unique opportunity to hear directly from Indigenous Peoples, express his heartfelt closeness, address the impact of colonization and the implication of the Church in the residential schools, so as to respond to the suffering of Indigenous Peoples and the ongoing effects of intergenerational trauma.”

The Bishops continued “It is our hope that these forthcoming encounters – and the important collaboration and partnership that has supported the planning – will lead to a shared future of peace and harmony between Indigenous Peoples and the Catholic Church in Canada.”

“The Catholic bishops in Canada have genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation,”

With regards to the upcoming meeting at the Vatican with the Pontiff, the Bishops hope “Mutual listening is the beginning of our common efforts to bring about shared and long-lasting reconciliation, authentic healing and bridge building.” and will be “important step on the journey of reconciliation and shared healing.”

Pope Francis spoke about the Kamloops discovery after the Angelus on June 6. He told the crowd in St. Peter’s Square: “I join the Canadian bishops and the whole Catholic Church in Canada in expressing my closeness to the Canadian people who have been traumatized by this shocking news. This sad discovery further heightens awareness of the pain and sufferings of the past.”

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