Vatican issues schedule for Pope Francis’ visit to Canada Religion news

The Vatican said Pope Francis will meet with indigenous leaders and boarding school survivors during his July 24-29 visit.

Warning: The story below contains details of boarding schools that may be disturbing. Residential Indian School Survivors and the Family Crisis Line Canada is available 24 hours a day at 1-866-925-4419.

Montreal Canada – The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said Pope Francis will begin his visit to Canada next month by meeting with survivors of Indigenous residential schools in the western province of Alberta.

The Vatican on Thursday released the schedule for the trip, with the Pope scheduled to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta on July 24.

The next day, he will visit the Maskwacis community, which was home to one of Canada’s largest residential schools, Ermineskin Residential School.

The Holy Father will be joining former boarding school students from across the country as part of an official programme. Alberta is home to the largest number of former boarding schools in Canada,” the CCCB said.

Pope Francis’ visit comes after he apologized on April 1 for abuses committed by members of the Roman Catholic Church against Indigenous children who were forced to attend boarding schools in Canada.

The apology, offered after days of talks with indigenous delegates in Rome, was sought by long-time residential school survivors, whose calls for justice and accountability have increased over the past year as unmarked graves have been discovered at several former school sites.

Several survivors and Aboriginal community leaders have invited the Pope to visit Canada to offer an apology to Aboriginal lands.

Canada forced more than 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children to attend boarding schools across the country between the late 19th century and the 1990s.

Thousands are believed to have died while attending institutions established and funded by the state but run by various religious denominations, most notably the Catholic Church.

“We know that the Holy Father was very moved by his meeting with the indigenous peoples in Rome earlier this year, and that he hopes to build on the important dialogue that took place,” said Archbishop Richard Smith, General Coordinator of the Papal Visit to Canada. He said in a CCCB statement on Thursday.

“We pray that this pilgrimage will be another meaningful step in a long journey of healing, reconciliation and hope.”

In Edmonton, the Pope will also participate in an outdoor mass at Commonwealth Stadium to celebrate Saint Anne’s Day on July 26. He will then travel to Lake St. Anne for the annual Hajj pilgrimage, according to the CCCB.

The Vatican said Pope Francis will travel the next day to Quebec City, where he is expected to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Governor-General Marie Simon and indigenous leaders.

He will hold mass on July 28 at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in North America. The Central Anti-Corruption Council said that up to 15,000 people are expected to attend.

On July 29, the Pope will travel to the last leg of his journey in Iqaluit, in northern Nunavut territory, where he will hold a private meeting with residential school survivors before joining a public event.

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