Pope Francis is planning his upcoming apostolic trip to Canada, describing it as “a penitential pilgrimage” that will hopefully contribute to a process of healing and reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples.
By Linda Bordoni
“Next Sunday, God willing, I will leave for Canada; therefore, I now wish to address all the inhabitants of this country,” Pope Francis said after the recitation of the Sunday Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square.
The Pope’s trip to Canada is scheduled for July 24-30 and will visit the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit.
He went on to explain that “Unfortunately, in Canada, many Christians, including some members of religious institutes, have contributed to policies of cultural assimilation which in the past have seriously harmed Indigenous communities in various ways.”
The pope recalled a series of meetings he held at the Vatican in April with delegations from Canada’s First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, during which he heard their stories about life in the residential school system. – a program for the forced integration of native children. into Canadian culture by separating them from their families and communities and placing them in boarding schools.
On these occasions, he said, he expressed “his sadness and solidarity for the harm they have suffered”.
The pope also expressed his thanks for the ongoing preparatory work “and for the welcome you will give me.”