The Pope visits Canada in July amidst the scandal of abuse in schools – The Citizen



Pope Francis will travel to Canada in late July, where he is expected to meet indigenous survivors of abuses committed in church-run residential schools, the Vatican She said Friday

The 85-year-old, who will travel to the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, apologized last month to indigenous delegations who visited him in the Vatican over a scandal that rocked the Catholic Church.

Numerous investigations into the former residential schools are underground after the discovery of anonymous mass graves, with over 4,000 children believed to be missing.

Further details on the July 24-30 visit will be published in the coming weeks, the Vatican said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday that “a formal apology in person” from the head of the Roman Catholic Church to the survivors and their families would be an important step “to promote meaningful reconciliation for the indigenous peoples in our country.”

Francis had previously said he wanted to visit Canada, but the trip was far from certain due to a painful knee problem that forced him to start using a wheelchair.

A visit to Lebanon initially scheduled for June was postponed earlier this month due to health problems.

However, the Argentine pontiff confirmed on Friday that he will travel to South Sudan “in a few weeks”, together with the oldest religious of the Church of England, Archbishop Justin Welby.

– ‘Healing’ –

The Canadian Bishops’ Conference said on Friday that the choice of three communities to visit would limit travel for the elderly pope, while “still allowing for intimate and public meetings” with people from all regions of the country.

Edmonton is home to the second largest number of indigenous people living in Canadian urban centers, and about 25 residential schools are located in Alberta, most of any province or territory in Canada, he said.

Quebec is home to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America.

Iqaluit, on the vast island of Baffin, is the capital of the Nunavut territory, home to many Inuit natives.

It is also an area in the Arctic region of the country where climate change, a priority for the pope, is taking effect three times faster than the global average.

The pope’s trip will coincide with the feast of St. Anne in Canada on July 26, dedicated to Jesus’ maternal grandmother.

Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canadian bishops are “immensely grateful” that the pope will visit to “continue the journey of healing and reconciliation.”

Francis should repeat his apologies to survivors of school abuse and relatives of the victims.

About 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 1800s to the 1990s in 139 residential schools across Canada, as part of a government’s forced assimilation policy.

They spent months or years isolated from their families, language and culture, and many were physically and sexually abused by principals and teachers.

In April, Francis criticized the “ideological colonization” of which “so many children have been victims”.

“Your identity and culture have been hurt, many families have been separated,” he said.

Thousands of people are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition or neglect. More than 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered in schools since May 2021.

A truth and reconciliation commission concluded in 2015 that the failed government policy amounted to “cultural genocide”.