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Pope Francis arrives in Canada to apologize to indigenous people

O papa Francisco e membros das Primeiras Nações canadenses se encontram durante a cerimônia de chegada do pontífice a Edmonton, no Canadá, em 24 de julho de 2022.
Pope Francis and members of the Canadian First Nations meet during the pontiff’s arrival ceremony in Edmonton, Canada, on of July 2022.| Photo: Ciro Fusco/EFE/EPA

Pope Francis arrived this Sunday in Edmonton, Canada, where he was received with drums and traditional songs by representatives of indigenous peoples, to whom he will apologize on this journey through the responsibilities of the Catholic Church in the treatment to which they were subjected in the schools where they were interned for the so-called “assimilation processes”. After a flight of more than ten hours and due to the time difference, the organizers of the trip preferred that the pope rest the rest of the day at the seminary in this city in the Canadian province of Alberta to better face the rest of the agenda that will start on Monday. 2022

Due to knee problems, the pope took the elevator down the plane, and not up the stairs, and in a wheelchair he went to one of the airport hangars where he was awaited by the Governor General of Canada, Mary Simon – the first indigenous woman to hold this position – and by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. . In addition to the authorities and indigenous representatives, soldiers from the 1st Canadian Mechanized Brigade were also present.2022 The pope was received by a troupe of drummers and singers from the Alexis nation, one of several native peoples of Canada, who sang their traditional songs; then, in profound silence, with Simon, Trudeau and the Pope seated, the exchange of greetings took place between the delegations. This was a change from usual protocol that will likely be repeated over the next few days to prevent the pope from spending too much time on his feet. The ceremony was brief, as will all the events of this trip, so that Francisco, who has 85 years, don’t get too tired.2022

In Canada, the official schedule will begin on Monday with a visit to a former boarding school in Maskwacis, where he will meet with indigenous populations and deliver his first speech. According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, government-funded schools were founded in Canada 139 , most of them administered by the Catholic Church, in which about 150 a thousand indigenous children were interned, separated from their families and forced to leave their languages, traditions and culture.2022

On Monday afternoon, the Pope will go to the Church of the Sacred Heart, where he will hold a meeting with indigenous populations and members of the parish community. He will bless an image dedicated to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, the first indigenous woman in North America to be recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.2022

This will be a trip that will put the pope’s mobility problems to the test, although during the flight, the pontiff walked the narrow aisles of the plane to greet journalists with help of a cane. “Better than yesterday, but worse than tomorrow”, Francisco joked about his knee pain.

During the flight, Francis assured journalists that he was traveling in the “spirit” of making a “penitential trip” to apologize to the indigenous populations. When asked if he didn’t get too tired of walking around the plane and if it wouldn’t have been better if he had been seated during the greetings, the Argentine pontiff replied that he could do it little by little.2022

The journalists also asked him about the possible trip to Ukraine and Francisco assured that he would like to make this trip, but admitted “that the organization is complicated”. The Vatican’s Under Secretary of State for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, assured in a recent interview that Francis could go to Kiev as early as August, although, according to the pope’s responses, this circumstance seems remote.

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