Pope lands in Canada, set for apologies to Indigenous groups

EDMONTON (ALBERTA): Pope Francis started a meaningful visit to Canada on sunday to apologize Native People were abused by missionaries in residential schools, an important step in the Catholic Church’s efforts to reconcile with Indigenous communities and help them heal through generations.
Francis flew from Rome to Edmonton, Alberta, where his welcome party included Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary May Simon, an Inuk who was Canada’s first indigenous governor. Francis has no official events scheduled for Sunday, giving him time to rest before Monday’s meeting with survivors near the site of a former residential school in Maskwacis, where he attended. Ant will apologize.
Aboard the Pope’s plane, Francis told reporters it was a “trip of penance” and he called for special prayers for the elderly and grandparents.
However, indigenous groups are looking for more than just words, as they try to access church archives to learn the fate of children who never return home from their homes. schools. They also want justice for abusers, financial compensation and the return of indigenous artifacts made by them Vatican Museum.
“This apology validates our experience and provides an opportunity for the church to repair its relationship with indigenous peoples around the world,” said Grand Chief George Arcand Jr., of the Sixth Allied Coalition. said. But he stressed: “It doesn’t end here – there’s a lot more work to be done. It’s a beginning.”
Francis’ week-long trip – will take him to Edmonton; Quebec City and finally Iqaluit, Nunavut, in the extreme north – after meetings he held in the spring at the Vatican with delegations from the First Nations, Metis and Inuit. Those meetings culminated with a historic April 1 apology for the “reproachable” abuses of some Catholic missionaries in residential schools.
The Government of Canada has acknowledged that physical and sexual abuse was rampant in government-sponsored Christian schools that operated from the 19th century to the 1970s. About 150,000 Indigenous children were taken from them. families and forced to attend school in an effort to insulate them from the influences of their home, language, and culture and to integrate them into Canadian Christian society.
Prime Minister at that time Stephen Harper issued a formal apology to residential schools in 2008. As part of a settlement of a lawsuit involving the government, the church and the approximately 90,000 surviving students, Canada has paid restitution. up to billions of dollars go to indigenous communities. The Catholic Church of Canada says its dioceses and religious orders have contributed more than $50 million in cash and kind, and hopes to raise another $30 million over the next five years.
Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called for the pope’s apology on Canadian soil, but only after the possible remains of about 200 children were discovered at the former boarding school Kamloops in British Columbia in 2021, the Vatican just mobilized to comply with the request.
Raymond Frogner said: “I really believe it if it weren’t for the discovery of … head of the archives at the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation.
Frogner had just returned from Rome, where he spent five days at the headquarters of the Missionary Mission of the Immaculate Conception, which operates 48 of the 139 Christian-run residential schools, the most in the country. number of Catholic schools. After the graves were discovered, Oblate finally offered “complete transparency and accountability” and allowed him into headquarters to research the names of the alleged sex offenders. from a school in the province of Saskatchewan, western Canada, he said.
While there, he found 1,000 black and white photographs of the school and their students, with text on the back, which he said would be of value to the survivors and their families. find traces of their loved ones. He said the Oblates had agreed on a joint project to digitize the photos and put them online.
For its part, the Inuit community is seeking the Vatican’s help to extradite a single Diocese priest, Father Joannes Rivoire, who served the Inuit communities until his departure in the 1990s. and returned to France. Canadian authorities issued an arrest warrant for him in 1998 on charges of several counts of sexual abuse, but it was never served.
Inuit leader Natan Obed personally asked Francis to help the Vatican with Rivoire’s extradition, telling the Associated Press in March that it was one concrete thing the Vatican could do to heal many of its victims.
Asked about the request, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said last week that he had no information about the incident.
At a news conference Saturday in Edmonton, organizers said they would do all they could to allow school survivors to attend papal events, especially for the Maskwacis’s apology and Tuesday’s gathering at Lac Ste. Anne, has long been a popular pilgrimage site for indigenous Catholics.
Both are in rural areas, and the organizers are arranging transportation from different parking lots and parking lots. They note that many survivors are now frail and may need accessible transportation, diabetic snacks and other services.
Father Cristino Bouvette, national liturgical coordinator for the pope’s visit, who is part of the Indigenous heritage, said he hopes the visit will heal those who “have carried a wound, a cross they have endured, in some cases for a number of generations.”
Bouvette, a priest in the Diocese of Calgary, said the pope’s liturgical events will be strongly representative of Indigenous peoples – including prominent roles for Indigenous clergy and the use of vernacular languages, music and motifs on liturgical services.
Bouvette said he is doing the work in honor of his “kokum,” the Cree word for his grandmother, who studied for 12 years at a boarding school in Edmonton. She “probably could never have imagined years later that her grandson would be involved in this work”.

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