Pope Francis to Make 3 Canadian Stops Meeting Residential School Survivors in July

Confidential sources involved in the planning of the trip say the Pope will likely make stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit. Francis is scheduled to be on a four-day trip to the country.

Newsroom (21/04/2022 12:00 PM Gaudium Press) The pontiff initially announced plans for the visit during his Vatican meetings on April 1 with Indigenous delegates from Canada, where he offered an initial apology for the actions of individual Roman Catholic Church members in Canada’s residential schools.

Sources say the trip with the three planned stops — which will be funded by the Canadian Catholic Church, with possible federal dollars — was in discussion before the Vatican meetings.

The delegates who travelled to Rome expect Pope Francis to deliver a fulsome apology on Canadian soil for the church’s role in running residential schools, which would fulfil a key call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron said Vatican advance teams have already scouted Iqaluit, Quebec City and Edmonton in preparation for the trip.

If the Pope goes to Edmonton, Caron said she hopes he will also take the opportunity to visit ​the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage grounds, designated a national historic site of Canada, 78 kilometres to the northwest.

“It is a special site,” she said. “A spiritual site, a healing site for Métis people.”

Back in Rome, Pope Francis said he wanted to attend the annual pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne from July 25 to 28 this year.

The Pope’s planned day trip to Iqaluit follows an invitation by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) president Natan Obed, charged by Inuit leaders to advocate for a papal visit to Nunavut’s capital. “Considering that the Catholic Church has had a footprint in the Canadian Arctic for well over 100 years, we felt that it was very important for the Pope to see our homeland,” Obed said.

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In a statement to CBC News, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said it is consulting national Indigenous organizations on dates and locations, which have not yet been finalized, and will continue those discussions for the programming of the visit if and when it is confirmed.

The Vatican has the ultimate say, and sources said a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks.

Some sources are worried the decision about where the Pope goes may disappoint some people.

But since the 85-year-old pontiff has significant health limitations, they say central hubs that can accommodate as many residential school survivors as possible will be selected to represent Northern, Western and Eastern Canada.

Obed said Indigenous people should not take responsibility for how the trip unfolds or become “gatekeepers for the winners and the losers” of where the Pope visits. “This is their event. This is what they are wanting to do,” Obed said. “The Catholic Church and the Vatican have to own this.”

“The Canadian bishops are grateful that Pope Francis has accepted their invitation to visit Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation,” the CCCB wrote in a statement to CBC News.

“Given the Holy Father’s advanced age and desire for simple, modest visits, we can expect the Canadian visit to reflect this reality in both the length of the pilgrimage as well as the geography of such a visit, given the size of Canada. We can anticipate that the visit to Canada will be very different than those of the past.”

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(Via CBC News)

Complied BY Raju Hasmukh

 

Gustavo Kralj
Gustavo Kraljhttp://www.gaudiumpressimages.com
Gustavo is a staff photographer at Gaudium Press, focused on photojournalism and travel photography.

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