Pope Francis is going from this Sunday until July 29 to Canada for, above all, apologize to indigenous communities for the abuses they suffered in Catholic boarding schoolsa visit that will test his mobility problems due to his knee pain which prevents him from walking and which had already forced him to cancel other trips.
Francis reappeared this Friday in a wheelchair in front of the image of the Virgin “Salus Populi Romani” in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, a usual gesture before his travels.
Therefore, everything indicates that the pope will use his wheelchair to get around during this trip organized in this perspective and, in addition, all the acts will be limited to one hour to avoid getting too tired, according to the Canadian bishops.
Asked by reporters about the influence of the pope’s health on this visit, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni replied: “It will be seen at all times, depending on the situation. We’re not going to make predictions.”
A journey to “ask forgiveness”
“A penitential pilgrimage”, as Francis defined it last Sunday during the Angelus prayer, since the main reason for this visit responds to the request of the indigenous communities for the representative of the Catholic Church to visit them and ask forgiveness on their land for the humiliations, abuses and the tortures they suffered during the so-called assimilation processes ordered by the Canadian government from the middle of the 19th century to the end of the 90s of the last century.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, 139 government-funded schools have been established and administered for the most part by the Catholic Church in which Around 150,000 indigenous children were interned who have been separated from their families, forced to abandon their languages, traditions and culture.
in these boarding schools suffered abuse of all kinds and it is estimated that more than 3,000 children died by diseases caused by the conditions in which they lived of hunger, overcrowding and lack of hygiene. They were buried in mass graves without any identification.
An agenda focused on proximity to indigenous peoples
Francis will arrive at Edmonton airport on Sunday after a 10 1/2 hour flight and is expected to be received upon arrival by Governor General Mary Simon, the first Indigenous person to hold the post, and Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada. Then he will rest all day like John Paul II did when he arrived at Strawberry Island, Ontario 20 years ago.
The next day he will move to Maskwacis, where one of these great boarding schools arose and after praying in one of the cemeteries He will be received by the elders of the indigenous peoples and will deliver the first of his nine speeches, which he has chosen to deliver in Spanish.
Also will visit the Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples where he will speak to Aboriginal peoples, who represent approximately 1.7 million people, or 5% of Canada’s 38.8 million inhabitants.
The On July 26, the feast of Saint Anne, will celebrate mass at the Commonwealth Stadiumand in the afternoon he will preside over a prayer at Santa Anna Lake, the largest in the province of Alberta, a place of great spirituality for Indigenous peoples and where a mission was founded that established an important relationship between indigenous peoples and Catholicism.
Next, will travel to Quebec to meet the authorities and where he will celebrate mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-De-Beaupré and will preside over the vigil at the Notre-Dame Basilica for the Catholics of this country who are approximately 44 percent.
The last day, Francisco will face the farthest journey a pontiff has made: to Iqaluitwhich in the Inuktitut language means “place of many fish”, located 186 miles south of the Arctic Circle, and home to the largest Inuit community in Canada, about 4,000 people, while about 8,000 inhabitants live in total.
There, at Nakasuk Primary School, Pope Francis to hold private meeting with former boarding school students and in the afternoon he will also meet the young natives in the courtyard of this school
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