Vatican City ( Associated Press) – Pope Francis, who has been using a wheelchair because of a bad knee, plans to visit Canada this summer to personally apologize for the mistreatment of indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic Church . ,
The Vatican announced Friday that Francis will travel to Canada on July 24 and visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, a small town in that country’s far north. About half of the Iqaluit population is Inuit. The Pope left Canada on July 29 and would reach Rome the next day.
Last month, Francis made a historic apology for the mistreatment at residential schools run by the Church of Canada and expressed “sadness and shame” for the lack of respect for Indigenous identity, culture and spiritual values.
He said he wanted to go to Canada to personally apologize to the survivors of misguided Catholic missionary zeal.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis was “accepting invitations from civil and church officials and indigenous communities” in what the Holy See called an “inspired visit”.
The Vatican said details of the Canada trip would be made public in the coming weeks. The bishops of Canada said the Pope was expected to visit the site of a former residential school as well as “other places of special importance”.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Francis was “coming to formally grant the Roman Catholic Church’s apology for its role in running residential schools, causing lasting pain and suffering to indigenous peoples in this country.”
“His Holiness’s upcoming visit would not be possible without the bravery and determination of survivors, Indigenous leaders and youth who share their stories,” the prime minister said in a written statement.
Trudeau said that a formal, personal apology, “would be an important – and necessary – step for the Roman Catholic Church to continue dialogue with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to achieve meaningful reconciliation for the indigenous peoples in our country.” The country can be taken forward.”
“For too long, this has been a burden carried by indigenous peoples alone. I encourage all Canadians to look back at this historic moment and reflect on the effects of colonialism,” Trudeau said of the upcoming papal visit .
On 1 April, when the Indigenous representative was visiting the Vatican for personal encounters with Francis, the pontiff voiced his “sadness and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identity, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system. .
Canada travel is being limited geographically due to the Pope’s health problems.
“Given the vast landscape of Canada, limited time to visit and the health of the 85-year-old pontiff,” only three communities will serve as grounds for the visit, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement.
“The locations will limit travel to the Holy Fathers, while still allowing the opportunity for encounters both intimate and public, drawing on participation from all regions of the country,” the statement said.
With the trip to Canada, 85-year-old Francis will test his stamina. After being severely paralyzed by what the Vatican said, Francis began arriving in some public appearances in a wheelchair, although on Sunday he stood at a window of the Apostolic Palace to greet pilgrims and tourists . St. Peter’s Square.
While the Vatican was confirming the visit, Francis was still brought in a wheelchair for a public appearance in the Vatican Auditorium. He remained in a wheelchair through the entire audience, in which he once again denounced the war in Ukraine.
The announcement of the visit was also welcomed by the bishops of Canada.
“We are extremely grateful that the Holy Fathers have accepted our invitation to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of this land,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Episcopal Conference.
Poisson said: “We pray for the health of the Holy Fathers as we intensively plan this historic journey.”
Even before the trip to Canada, Francis will face another mobility challenge. In early July, he is scheduled to visit Congo and South Sudan, a visit he hopes will lead to reconciliation.
Recently, Lebanese officials said the Pope’s expected June visit would not take place.
Edmonton is home to the second largest number of indigenous peoples living in urban Canadian centres. In reference to the tragic legacy of abuse, the convention stated that “in addition, 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada.”
During the Pope’s meetings with Indigenous representatives at the Vatican, Inuit representatives invited him to visit the northern regions of Canada.
The bishops said the Quebec City stop would provide a hub for indigenous peoples of eastern Canada who wish to see the Pope.