The next step in his penitential pilgrimage was to visit the Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples. This church was declared a national First Nations, Inuit and Métis parish in 1991.
Two parishioners shared their testimony with the Pope. He told them about the work of the parish in the service of those in need and the path taken to allay the horrors of the state boarding schools.
We are an indigenous Catholic parish.
We thank you, Holy Father, for hearing our voices. Your presence today gives us the opportunity to face, understand, set free and transcend our trauma.
During the ceremony, an indigenous group sang the hymn How Great Thou Art in English and Cree to welcome the Pope to the parish.
In his message, Pope Francis considered the meaning of reconciliation and the role of the Church in it.
It is a home for all, open and inclusive, as the Church should be, a family of God’s children where hospitality and welcome, the distinctive values of indigenous culture, are essential; Where everyone should feel welcome regardless of their own history and life circumstances.
He also regretted that in many cases in history evangelism was imposed by force. He said that this is not the way of God.
He does not support with his Spirit those who submit to others, confusing the gospel of reconciliation with proselytism. Because God cannot be declared unlike God. Yet how many times has this happened in history!
Later, a group of parishioners presented presents filled with images or symbols of indigenous culture to the Pope.
Before leaving the church, the pope made a long-awaited gesture: he blessed the statue of Saint Kateri Tekquitha, the first canonical indigenous woman. She believes that it is possible to find roots of faith in different cultures. Afterwards, Francisco greets a group of elderly people from his wheelchair.
And then he gave a surprise. Because instead of getting in the car, he took a final walk to greet those who followed the ceremony from outside.