- Pope Francis may visit Canada next year, according to Indigenous delegates in Rome this week.
- An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools. More than 60% of the schools were under the control of the Catholic Church.
- In October of last year, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis was willing to visit Canada. However, no date has ever been given.
According to Indigenous delegates in Rome this week, Pope Francis may visit Canada within the next year.
On Thursday, a delegation of 14 Indigenous survivors, elders, leaders, youth, and knowledge keepers met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. They urged him to visit Canada and make amends for the church’s role in the residential schools.
“We heard the Holy Father say to us, ‘The church is with you.'” “And that’s a huge statement because the next thing we’ll hear is ‘I’m sorry,'” said Phil Fontaine, a former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations and a survivor of residential schools.
“I’m also confident that this pivotal moment in our people’s lives will take place on Canadian soil.”
This visit is expected to take place “very soon,” possibly even “before winter,” according to Fontaine, who cited the former president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Richard Gagnon (CCCB).
“Of course, the fall and summer come before winter. “I’m certain it’ll be summer, which makes me extremely happy,” Fontaine said.
However, the delegates’ timeline for a possible Papal visit was not set in stone. While Fontaine stated that the trip would take place in the coming months, another delegate said she had heard it would take place in 2023.
Grand Chief Mandy Gull-Masty of the Cree Nation of Eeyou Istchee said, “We wish to express our gratitude for His Holiness Pope Francis’ commitment to visit Canada in the New Year.”
Gull-Masty said she’d like to invite Pope Francis to visit former residential school sites and “meet with First Nations survivors, families, and leaders” if he continues his promise to come.
She also stated that she would like to see him issue a “meaningful apology.”
“(An apology) that will include an acknowledgment of the Catholic Church’s wrongdoings and an admission of responsibility,” Gull-Masty said.
The Pope has so far refused to take responsibility for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system, which ripped Indigenous children from their homes and families until 1997, only to place them in facilities where they were scolded for speaking their native tongue and, in many cases, abused.
Residential schools were forced on an estimated 150,000 Indigenous children. The Catholic Church was in charge of more than 60% of the schools.
Over a thousand unmarked graves have been discovered at residential school sites in the last year.
The delegation’s discussion about a possible papal visit on Thursday isn’t the first hint that Pope Francis plans a trip to Canada. The Vatican announced in October of last year that the Pope was willing to visit Canada. No date, however, has ever been provided.
The CCCB invited the Pope to visit Canada, according to the Vatican, in the “context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.”
It did not commit to apologizing.
“The time is right” for Fontaine to apologize now.
“The world has been watching us for a long time, and the world’s eyes have been on all of us here this week… “In large part but since of what happened in Kamloops with the discovery of the 215 unmarked graves,” Fontaine explained.
“It jolted Canada out of its slumber on the issue of residential schools.” The discovery made headlines around the world.”
He claimed he was “convinced” at the time that the church had no choice but to apologize and that the current trip to Rome’s “rallying cry” has been an “apology on Canadian soil.”
Source: Global News
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