December 6, 2022

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Pope: To embrace Aboriginal people in Canada, it will be a penitential pilgrimage

At the end of the Angelus, Francis asks to come with prayer on his next apostolic journey July 24-30, when he will meet the original communities: “I hope he can contribute to the path of reconciliation and healing already undertaken”

Salvatore Cernuzio – Vatican City

“A penitential pilgrimage” to bow your head and apologize but open your arms and embrace the indigenous peoples who have been harmed by “assimilation policies” in the past, and by religious institutions. From the window of the Apostolic Palace, at the end of Angelus, Pope Francis speaks about his trip to Canada from July 24-30 and reiterates his “pain” and his “closeness” to the Canadian tribes. Dialogues in late March and early April – will meet in person during the 38th Apostolic Journey, which will touch on four cities: Edmonton, Masquais, Quebec and Iqaluit.

(Listen to the statement with the Pope’s voice)

Step forward on the path of reconciliation

The Pope asks that the faithful from all over the world may come with prayer already. A visit the pontiff always hoped would “contribute to the path of reconciliation and healing already undertaken”.

Next Sunday, God willing, I will go to Canada, and that is why I want to speak to the people who live in that country now. Dear brothers and sisters of Canada, you know that I will come among you above all in Jesus name to embrace the indigenous people. Unfortunately, many Christians in Canada, particularly members of religious institutions, have contributed to policies of cultural assimilation that have severely damaged Indigenous communities in various ways in the past.

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Pain and unity

It is for this reason that the Pope opened the doors of the Apostolic Palace to Inuit, Métis and First Nations groups for three days, beginning March 28:

I expressed my pain and solidarity with the evils they suffered

To the representatives of the indigenous nations, Francis dedicated a private audience in which to listen to their demands and, above all, to the testimonies of elders who directly experienced the cruelty of the country’s past, from 1880 to the last decade. In the twentieth century, institutions funded by the government and often administered by Christian organizations aimed to educate and transform Aboriginal youth and integrate them into traditional Canadian society.

A request for forgiveness

At the Angelus of June 2020, Francis mentioned this issue, and then a year later (with many references due to the Covid-19 pandemic), he was ready to welcome some representatives of indigenous Canadian peoples in the Vatican. All the natives and bishops were finally welcomed by a great audience in the Sala Clementina on April 1st, during which the Pope uttered those words for which the original people faced a journey to the other side of the world: “I am very. Sorry . And together with the Canadian brother bishops I ask you for forgiveness”.

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I told you, and I will say it again: I feel shame, pain and shame for the part played by many Catholics, especially in educational responsibilities, in all that has offended you, in abuse and disrespect for your identity. Culture and even your spiritual values. All these are contrary to the gospel of Jesus.

“Come with Me in Prayer”

So now the Pope is preparing to “make a penitential pilgrimage”:

I believe that with God’s grace, this can contribute to the path of reconciliation and healing that has already been undertaken. Thank you in advance for all the preparations and the welcome you have reserved for me.

Hence the request: “Please join me in prayer”.