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Pope Francis to visit Canada

Pope Francis will also meet with representatives of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis later this year.
SK Bishops1
The Catholic Church in the province will be anticipating Pope Francis' planned visit to the country.

SASKATOON — The Vatican has accepted the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops’ invitation to have Pope Francis visit the country, with the 84-year-old pontiff making a “pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation” to repair the strained relations between the Catholic Church and Indigenous Peoples.

Details of the papal visit are still being discussed with the date to be set later, according to a Vatican statement. The statement added that Pope Francis expressed his “willingness” to visit Canada as part of moves by the Church to reach out to Indigenous Peoples.

“The Bishops' Conference of Canada has invited the Holy Father Francis to make an apostolic visit to Canada, also in the context of the pastoral process, which has been underway for some time, of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. His Holiness has expressed his willingness to go to the country at a date to be set later,” the Vatican said in a statement.

CCCB president Bishop Raymond Poisson, in a separate statement on Archdiocese of Vancouver’s weekly publication The BC Catholic, said they continue to engage Indigenous Peoples through meaningful discussions. “Especially those affected by residential schools who have shared stories about the suffering and challenges that they continue to experience.

“We pray that Pope Francis’ visit to Canada will be a significant milestone in the journey toward reconciliation and healing.”

The Pope will be meeting a delegation composed of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis representatives later this year as part of the healing and reconciliation process, especially to the survivors of the residential school system. The CCCB helped organized the trip with the meeting set from Dec. 17 to 20.

Poisson said the delegation that will meet with Pope Francis will be composed of Indigenous survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, and youth. “We invite the delegation… to open their hearts to the Holy Father and share both their suffering as well as their hopes and desires for his eventual visit to Canada.”

Toronto Archbishop Cardinal Thomas Collins, in a statement, also welcomed the Vatican’s announcement that Pope Francis accepted the CCCB’s invitation to visit Canada. “I reiterate the unequivocal apology of the Canadian bishops from earlier this year as we sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma, and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous peoples that continue to this day.”

“We affirm our commitment to walk with the Indigenous people on the lengthy path of healing and dialogue. I pray that the visit of the Holy Father will provide a space for that journey to continue through authentic encounters of compassion, understanding and reconciliation.”

Pope Francis will become the second pontiff to visit the country after St. John Paul II, who visited Canada three times in 1984, 1987, and the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto.

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