Pope Francis will travel to Canada from July 24 to 30 to visit the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit.
By Vatican News staff writer
The Holy See Press Office announced on Friday that Pope Francis will travel to Canada from July 24 to 30, accepting invitations from political and ecclesiastical authorities, as well as from indigenous communities.
The Holy Father’s upcoming visit in July will see him in the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit.
More details about the Pope’s trip to Canada will be available in the coming weeks, the press office said in a statement.
Meetings with Native Canadian delegations
In anticipation of this latest announcement, Pope Francis has had a series of meetings in recent weeks with several delegations of Indigenous Canadians in the Vatican.
The Pope met with the Métis and Inuit delegations on March 28 and with the First Nations delegation on March 31. He then received all three delegations together, along with representatives of the Canadian Conference of Bishops (CCCB) on April 1.
The meetings gave the Pope the opportunity to “listen and offer space for the painful stories shared by the survivors” and to address the continuing trauma and suffering faced by indigenous peoples to this day, especially after the news was released last year about the discovery of mass graves at the Kamloops Residential School in India, with the corpses of hundreds of natives.
The discovery marked the symbol of a hard past, which from 1880 to the last decades of the 20sου Century saw government-funded institutions run by Catholic organizations try to educate and convert indigenous young people.
Pope Francis expressed his indignation and shame “for the role played by many Catholics, especially those with educational responsibilities, in all these things that have hurt you. [the Indigenous Peoples]to the abuses you have suffered and to the lack of respect for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values ”.
On this occasion, the Pope also said that he was enriched by their words and testimonies and will be happy to benefit again from meeting them when he visits their homelands, where [their] living families.
Canadian Bishops welcome the Pope’s visit
In a separate statement, Bishops Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Episcopal Conference, welcomed the official confirmation of the Pope’s visit by the country’s bishops.
“We are extremely grateful that the Holy Father accepted our invitation to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of this land,” said Bishop Poisson. “We pray for the health of the Holy Father as we undertake the intensive planning of this historic visit.”
Edmonton, Iqaluit and Quebec
As for the three cities the pope will visit, the statement noted that Edmonton is home to Canada’s second-largest indigenous people and about 25 residential schools were located in Alberta – most of any Canadian province.
Iqualuit, for its part, hosts nearly 8,000 people and has the highest Inuit population (3,900) of any Canadian city.
Quebec City is home to Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the oldest and most popular places of pilgrimage in North America that attracts Indigenous people and others from all over Canada and around the world each year.