Pope in Canada: ‘Healing can now begin’

Elder Fernie Marty of the Sacred Heart First Peoples Church in Edmonton says it's very important that Pope Francis is coming to Canada so that a healing process can begin after the atrocities of the past.

By Vatican News staff reporter

Pope Francis on Monday will travel to the Sacred Heart First Peoples Church in Edmonton on the first full day of this Apostolic Visit to Canada.

His visit is being eagerly awaited by parishioners who attended Mass on Sunday, listening attentively to a homily given by Sacred Heart’s pastor, Fr Susai Jesu, OMI. 

There to greet the Pope on Monday will be Elder of the church, Fernie Marty, a Catholic, born in Edmonton, who belongs to the Papaschase First Nation.

"I feel blessed to live in both worlds," he told Vatican News’ Marine Henriot, during the final preparations to welcome Pope Francis.

"My mother made sure I was baptised at birth, and my mother's family made sure I stayed close to our Indigenous culture. I was able to blend these two cultures that I was born into,” he said.

Healing and Reconciliation

Pope Francis has said that he is undertaking this “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada, in the hopes of contributing to the “process of healing and reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples.”

During his Angelus address on 17 July, he said, “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.”

In April this year, the Pope met with Canadian Indigenous delegations, expressing his profound sorrow and asking for pardon for the suffering inflicted by some members of the Catholic Church.

An important visit

Speaking about the atrocities of the past, Fernie Marty said, “it is very important that he [the Pope] comes here so that the healing process will start for many of us.

As the world’s media descends on Edmontion for the Pope’s penitential pilgrimage, he commented that “it's exciting and a little nerve wracking with all the media and stuff, but most of all I’m good with everything.”

“Our chief is very open to it; I know he’ll be here tomorrow,“ the elder said.  “I think he is the only chief who is going to be here tomorrow. It is good for the Pope to see that there’s going to be a chief here for his visit to our Sacred Heart Church. Him being here in Canada where all the atrocities happened; that’s very, very important.”

Listen to a clip of the interview
25 July 2022, 11:36