Vatican City (AP) – Pope Francis has agreed to travel to Canada to help reconcile with indigenous peoples following allegations that the Catholic Church played a role in the abuse and death of thousands of Native children.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the pope to make an apostolic visit to the country “in the context of the pastoral process of reconciliation with the indigenous people,” the Holy See Press Office said in a statement. The report does not explain why reconciliation is necessary.
Francisco “stated that he would like to visit the country on a date,” the statement said.
This pilgrimage may be an opportunity to apologize to the Pope at the request of many Canadians.
Considering the time it will take to arrange the Pope’s visit, it is unlikely to take place this year.
Francisco had already agreed to meet in December with the tribesmen who had escaped from the infamous residential schools. At the conference of bishops at the time, the pope said he had invited delegations to the Vatican and that during his visit on December 17-20 he would meet separately with three groups of First Nations, the Medes and the Inuit. According to the Conference of Bishops, on December 20 he will lead the final audience with three groups.
It is unknown at this time what he will do after leaving the post.
Several months ago, investigators in Canada said they used ground-penetrating radar to find hundreds of unnamed graves on the grounds of two residential schools for tribal children. When more than 600 graves were found in one school and 215 bodies in another, voices were raised, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in support of the pope’s formal apology.
From the 19th century to the 1970s, more than 150,000 aborigines were forced to enroll in government-funded Christian boarding schools to join Canadian society. Thousands of children died of disease or other causes; Others did not return to their families.
Nearly three-quarters of the 130 residential schools were run by Catholic missionary orders. Others are made by Presbyterian, Anglican and United Church of Canada churches, making it the largest Protestant church in the country.
The Canadian government granted a formal amnesty in 2008. In addition, Presbyterian, Anglican and United churches did.
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