Pope willing to travel to Canada on pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation
By Vatican News staff writer
The Holy See Press Office released a statement on Wednesday regarding an invitation issued by Canada’s Bishops to Pope Francis to visit their country:
“The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the Holy Father to make an apostolic journey to Canada, also in the context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples. His Holiness has indicated his willingness to visit the country on a date to be settled in due course,” the statement reads.
A communiqué published by the CCCB says the Bishops invited the Pope to “visit Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.”
It notes that the Bishops of Canada have been engaged in discussions with Indigenous Peoples, especially those affected by residential schools, who have shared stories about the suffering and challenges that they continue to experience.
Pope Francis has shared his sorrow for what he described as the “shocking news” for the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves detected in the grounds of the Church-run Kamloops Indian Residential School this past summer.
Speaking during the Angelus on 6 June 2021, he said he was praying for the Canadian Church and for the people, and he issued an appeal to political and religious authorities of Canada to work together to shed light on the matter and commit to “a path of reconciliation and healing.”
The Residential Schools
The residential schools were government-sponsored schools, many of them run by Christian organizations, that were established to assimilate Indigenous children into Euro-Canadian culture. They operated from the 1880s into the closing decades of the 20th century and aimed to educate and convert Indigenous youth and to assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society. The system forcibly separated children from their families for extended periods of time and forbade them to acknowledge their Indigenous heritage and culture or to speak their own languages. Former students tell of extensive and systemic abuse within the system.