Stopover in Quebec during the papal visit to Canada in July

Stopover in Quebec during the papal visit to Canada in July

It is confirmed, the page François will visit Canada in July and a stopover is planned in Quebec in his process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples.

On Friday morning, the Vatican officially announced that Pope Francis will visit Canada from July 24-29, 2022. This historic visit, focused on Indigenous healing and reconciliation, will be the fourth papal trip to Canada and the first since the visit of John Paul II in 2002.

Recall that on April 1, Pope Francis apologized for the role played by the Catholic Church in Canada's residential school system. The Holy Father expressed his “sadness and shame” for the abuses and lack of respect for indigenous culture and spiritual values. The apology was based on comments gathered during private meetings with Indigenous Elders who survived residential schools and various First Nations representatives.

“We are grateful to the Holy Father for accepting our invitation to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation with the indigenous peoples of the country. At the end of July, Pope Francis will have the opportunity to visit indigenous peoples in their homeland, as he promised when he met them recently in Rome. We pray for the health of the Holy Father as we begin planning for this historic visit,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

Three stops planned

Given the vastness of Canada, the limited time available and the state of health of the 85-year-old Pontiff, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will only make three stops during his Canadian visit, namely in Edmonton , Iqaluit and Quebec. These places make it possible to limit the movements of the Holy Father while offering him the opportunity to have individual and public meetings across the country.

The choice of Edmonton is essential, because this city has the second highest number of Aboriginal people living in urban centers in Canada. In addition, 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the highest number among the provinces and territories.

With its population of 8,000 people, Iqaluit has the largest number of Inuit in Canada. Pope Francis was personally invited by the Inuit delegates to visit the North when they meet in March.

Finally, Quebec City is an accessible destination for people who wish to travel to see Pope Francis, especially the indigenous peoples of the eastern part of the country. The area is also home to the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites for First Nations in North America.

Sites and program to be specified

Although the dates and places have been announced by the Vatican, the precise sites and the official program will be agreed in close collaboration with the partners indigenous peoples at the local and national levels. Given the importance given to healing and reconciliation among Aboriginal people, the Holy Father should be able to visit the site of a former residential school and other places of particular significance.

The CCCB appointed Bishop Richard Smith as general coordinator of the papal visit to Canada. As Archbishop of Edmonton, Bishop Smith accompanied Indigenous delegates to the Vatican earlier this year. Additionally, he is known for his long-standing relationships with Indigenous leaders.

For more information on the papal visit to Canada: www.visitepapale.ca.

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