Pope Francis boards the papal plane Pope Francis boards the papal plane 

Pope Francis sets off on ‘penitential pilgrimage’ to Canada

Pope Francis departs from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport on Sunday morning to begin his 37th Apostolic Journey abroad, which will see him embrace the people of Canada.

By Devin Watkins

Sunday morning saw Pope Francis fly out of Rome on an ITA Airways plane to kick off his Apostolic Journey to Canada.

The papal plane took off at 9:16 AM Rome time, and landed in the western Canadian city of Edmonton about 11:09 AM MDT (7:09 PM Rome time).

He received an official welcome to Canada by Governor General Mary Simon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Salma Lakhani.

The Pope then traveled to St. Joseph Seminary to rest up from his long flight for the rest of the day. His first public encounters begin in earnest on Monday morning.

Healing and reconciliation

One week ahead of his departure, the Pope said at his Angelus address on 17 July that he is undertaking a “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, in the hopes of contributing to the “process of healing and reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples.”

“Unfortunately, in Canada, many Christians, including some members of religious institutes, have contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation that, in the past, have severely harmed indigenous communities in various ways,” he said on that occasion.

Pope Francis shakes hands with representatives of Italy's government
Pope Francis shakes hands with representatives of Italy's government

On Saturday, Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin echoed the Pope’s words in an interview with Vatican Media.

He said the Pope’s visit comes in connection with meetings held in the Vatican in March and April with representatives of indigenous peoples.

“I would say that closeness is the key word,” said Cardinal Parolin. “The Pope intends not only to speak words, but above all to draw near to, and manifest, his closeness in a concrete way. Therefore, he sets out to touch with his own hands the suffering of those populations, to pray with them and to make himself a pilgrim in their midst.”

(Article updated at 10:30 PM)

24 July 2022, 09:20