Call to Action # 58: Actions and Commitments

Pope Francis apology

April 1, 2022

Catholic Church

‘I am sorry’: Pope Francis apologizes for role Catholics played in residential school abuses

APTN – During their last in-person meeting with Pope Francis, First Nations, Inuit and Métis members of the delegation to Vatican City heard the words they were seeking, “I am sorry.”

In the hour-long meeting before the delegation returns home to cities and communities across Canada, Pope Francis, reading from prepared notes, reviewed what he had heard from each of the parties over several days in Rome including the effects of “intergenerational trauma.” “All of this made me feel two things very strongly, indignation and shame,” said the Pope through a translator. “Indignation because It is not right to accept evil and worse, to grow accustomed to evil as it was an inevitable part of the historical process.

“No, without real indignation without historical memory and without a commitment to learning from past mistakes, problems remain unresolved and keep coming back. The memory of the past must never be sacrificed at the alter of alleged progress.”

He continued: “I also feel shame … sorrow and shame for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, and the abuses you suffered and the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”

The Catholic church played a major role in operating the residential school system designed up by the federal government to take children away from their families and sever ties with their culture and language and assimilate them into mainstream society.

While reaction to the Pope’s apology was joyous, the delegates said they realized this was just the beginning.

“Between now and his visit to Canada I hope Pope Francis will continue to reflect upon our words and our truths of our survivors and on the immense harm caused by individuals as well as the church itself so that when he does come to Canada the Pope can apologize once again directly to our survivors and to their families,” said Cassidy Caron, president of the Métis National Council. “And can do so from a place of deep understanding and acknowledgment and then follow those sincere words of apology with sincere acts of atonement which he has committed to.

“That is why today we from the Métis National Council gifted the pope not just our stories but also the gift of tangible action of practical steps the church can take to begin walking alongside the Métis Nation on our journey of truth, justice and healing.”

ITK President Natan Obed added, “We at ITK look forward to working with the Canadian council of bishops, and the Vatican to not only plan for this message, not only to be brought to Canada and to our people in our homelands, but also to see action that will really be the hallmark of this reconciliation journey with the church.”

Each of the leaders say they’ll be working with Canadian bishops on the details of planning the papal visit including which stops Francis will make along the way, and fulfil the requirements from the TRC.

“It’s a historical first step, however, only a first step. More news to be done to address the Truth and Reconciliation calls to action number 58,” said Gerald Antoine, regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations for the N.W.T.

“The next step is for the holy father to apologize to our family at their home. We seek to hear his words they also seek to hear his words of apology at home.”

For the full text of Pope Francis’ apology click in the following link from CBC

July 27, 2022

Catholic Church

Address of Pope Francis at the Citadelle de Québec

(24 – 30 JULY 2022)



“Citadelle de Québec”
Wednesday, 27 July 2022



Madam Governor General,
Mr Prime Minister,
Distinguished Civil and Religious Authorities,
Dear Representatives of the Indigenous Peoples,
Honourable Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

I cordially greet you and I thank Her Excellency the Right Honourable Mary Simon and His Excellency Justin Trudeau for their kind words. I am happy to be able to address you, who have the responsibility of serving the people of this great country that, “from sea to sea”, displays an extraordinary natural heritage. Among its many beauties, I think of the immense and spectacular maple forests that make the Canadian countryside uniquely colourful and variegated. I would like to take as my starting point the symbol par excellence of these lands, the maple leaf, which, starting from the seal of Québec, rapidly spread to become the emblem that appears on the national flag.

That development took place in relatively recent times, but the maple trees preserve the memory of many past generations, going back well before the colonists arrived on Canadian soil. The native peoples extracted maple sap, with which they concocted wholesome and healthy syrups. This makes us think of their industriousness and their constant concern to protect the land and the environment, in fidelity to a harmonious vision of creation as an open book that teaches human beings to love the Creator and to live in symbiosis with other living creatures. We can learn much from this ability to listen attentively to God, to persons and to nature. And we need it, especially amid the dizzying and frenzied pace of today’s world, marked by a constant “rapidification”, which makes difficult a truly human, sustainable and integral development (cf. Laudato Si’18), and ends up creating “a society of weariness and disillusionment”, which finds it hard to recover the taste for contemplation, authentic relationships, the mystique of togetherness. How much we need to listen to and dialogue with one another, in order to step back from the prevailing individualism, from hasty judgments, widespread aggressiveness and the temptation to divide the world into good people and bad! The large size of the maple leaves, which absorb polluted air and in turn give out oxygen, invite us to marvel at the beauty of creation and to appreciate the wholesome values present in the indigenous cultures. They can inspire us all, and help to heal harmful tendencies to exploitation. Exploiting creation, relationships, time and basing human activity solely on what proves useful and profitable.

These vital teachings, however, were violently opposed in the past. I think above all of the policies of assimilation and enfranchisement, also involving the residential school system, which harmed many indigenous families by undermining their language, culture and worldview. In that deplorable system, promoted by the governmental authorities of the time, which separated many children from their families, different local Catholic institutions had a part. For this reason, I express my deep shame and sorrow, and, together with the bishops of this country, I renew my request for forgiveness for the wrong done by so many Christians to the indigenous peoples. It is tragic when some believers, as happened in that period of history, conform themselves to the conventions of the world rather than to the Gospel. The Christian faith has played an essential role in shaping the highest ideals of Canada, characterized by the desire to build a better country for all its people. At the same time, it is necessary, in admitting our faults, to work together to accomplish a goal that I know all of you share: to promote the legitimate rights of the native populations and to favour processes of healing and reconciliation between them and the non-indigenous people of the country. That is reflected in the commitment to respond in a fitting way to the appeals of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as in the concern to acknowledge the rights of the native peoples.

The Holy See and the local Catholic communities are concretely committed to promoting the indigenous cultures through specific and appropriate forms of spiritual accompaniment that include attention to their cultural traditions, customs, languages and educational processes, in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is our desire to renew the relationship between the Church and the indigenous peoples of Canada, a relationship marked both by a love that has borne outstanding fruit and, tragically, deep wounds that we are committed to understanding and healing.  I am very grateful to have encountered and listened to various representatives of the indigenous peoples in recent months in Rome, and to be able, here in Canada, to renew the good relations established there. The time we spent together made an impression on me and left a firm desire to respond to the indignation and shame for the sufferings endured by the indigenous peoples, and to move forward on a fraternal and patient journey with all Canadians, in accordance with truth and justice, working for healing and reconciliation, and constantly inspired by hope.

That “history of suffering and contempt”, the fruit of the colonizing mentality, “does not heal easily”. Indeed, it should make us realize that “colonization has not ended; in many places it has been transformed, disguised and concealed” (Querida Amazonia, 16). This is the case with forms of ideological colonization. In the past, the colonialist mentality disregarded the concrete life of people and imposed certain predetermined cultural models; yet today too, there are any number of forms of ideological colonization that clash with the reality of life, stifle the natural attachment of peoples to their values, and attempt to uproot their traditions, history and religious ties. This mentality, presumptuously thinking that the dark pages of history have been left behind, becomes open to the “cancel culture” that would judge the past purely on the basis of certain contemporary categories. The result is a cultural fashion that levels everything out, makes everything equal, proves intolerant of differences and concentrates on the present moment, on the needs and rights of individuals, while frequently neglecting their duties with regard to the most weak and vulnerable of our brothers and sisters: the poor, migrants, the elderly, the sick, the unborn… They are the forgotten ones in “affluent societies”; they are the ones who, amid general indifference, are cast aside like dry leaves to be burnt. 

Instead, the rich multicolored foliage of the maple tree reminds us of the importance of the whole, the importance of developing human communities that are not blandly uniform, but truly open and inclusive. And just as every leaf is fundamental for the luxuriant foliage of the branches, so each family, as the essential cell of society, is to be given its due, because “the future of humanity passes through the family” (SAINT JOHN PAUL II, Familiaris Consortio, 86). The family is the first concrete social reality, yet it is threatened by many factors: domestic violence, the frenetic pace of labour, an individualistic mindset, cutthroat careerism, unemployment, the loneliness and isolation of young people, the abandonment of the elderly and the infirm… The indigenous peoples have much to teach us about care and protection for the family; among them, from an early age, children learn to recognize right from wrong, to be truthful, to share, to correct mistakes, to begin anew, to comfort one another and to be reconciled. May the wrongs that were endured by the indigenous peoples, for which we are ashamed, serve as a warning to us today, lest concern for the family and its rights be neglected for the sake of greater productivity and individual interests.

Let us return to the maple leaf. In wartime, soldiers used those leaves for bandages and for soothing wounds. Today, before the senseless folly of war, we have once again need to heal forms of hostility and extremism and to cure the wounds of hatred. A witness of tragic acts of violence in the past recently observed that “peace has its own secret: never to hate anyone. If we want to live we must never hate” (Interview with Edith Bruck, Avvenire, 8 March 2022). We have no need to divide the world into friends and enemies, to create distances and once again to arm ourselves to the teeth: an arms race and strategies of deterrence will not bring peace and security. We need to ask ourselves not how to pursue wars, but how to stop them. And to prevent entire peoples from once more being held hostage and in the grip of terrible cold wars that are still increasing. What we need are creative and farsighted policies capable of moving beyond the categories of opposition in order to provide answers to global challenges.

In fact, the great challenges of our day, like peace, climate change, the effects of the pandemic and international migration movements, all have one thing in common: they are global challenges; they regard everyone. And since all of them speak of the need to consider the whole, politics cannot remain imprisoned in partisan interests. We need to be able to look, as the indigenous wisdom tradition teaches, seven generations ahead, and not to our immediate convenience, to the next elections, or the support of this or that lobby. But we need also to appreciate the yearning of young people for fraternity, justice and peace. In order to preserve memory and wisdom, we need to listen to the elderly, but in order to press forward towards the future, we also need to embrace the dreams of young people. They deserve a better future than the one we are preparing for them; they deserve to be involved in decisions about the building of the world of today and tomorrow, and particularly about the protection of our common home; in this regard, the values and teachings of the indigenous peoples are precious. Here I would like to express appreciation for the praiseworthy commitment being made on the local level to protecting the environment. It could even be said that the symbols drawn from nature, such as the fleur-de-lis in the flag of this Province of Québec, and the maple leaf in that of the country, confirm Canada’s ecological vocation.

When the Commission for the creation of the national flag set about evaluating the thousands of sketches submitted for that purpose, many of them by ordinary people, it proved surprising that almost all of them contained the image of the maple leaf. The convergence around this shared symbol leads me to bring up an essential word for all Canadians: multiculturalism. Multiculturalism is fundamental for the cohesiveness of a society as diverse as the dappled colours of the foliage of the maple trees. With its multiple points and sides, the maple leaf reminds us of a polyhedron; it tells us that you are people capable of inclusion, such that new arrivals can find a place in that multiform unity and make their own original contribution to it (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 236). Multiculturalism is a permanent challenge: it involves accepting and embracing all the different elements present, while at the same time respecting their diverse traditions and cultures, and never thinking that the process is complete. In this regard, I express my appreciation for the generosity shown in accepting many Ukrainian and Afghan migrants. There is also a need to move beyond the rhetoric of fear with regard to immigrants and to give them, according to the possibilities of the country, the concrete opportunity to become involved responsibly in society. For this to happen, rights and democracy are indispensable. But it is also necessary to confront the individualistic mindset and to remember that life in common is based on presuppositions that the political system cannot produce on its own. Here too, the indigenous culture is of great help in recalling the importance of social values. The Catholic Church, with its universal dimension, its concern for the most vulnerable, its rightful service to human life at every moment of its existence, from conception to natural death, is happy to offer its specific contribution.

In these days, I have heard about the many needy persons who come knocking on the doors of the parishes. Even in a country as developed and prosperous as Canada, which pays great attention to social assistance, there are many homeless persons who turn to churches and food banks to receive essential help in meeting their needs, which, lest we forget, are not only material.  These brothers and sisters of ours spur us to reflect on the urgent need for efforts to remedy the radical injustice that taints our world, in which the abundance of the gifts of creation is unequally distributed. It is scandalous that the well-being generated by economic development does not benefit all the sectors of society. And it is indeed sad that precisely among the native peoples we often find many indices of poverty, along with other negative indicators, such as the low percentage of schooling, and less than easy access to owning a home and to health care. May the emblem of the maple leaf, which regularly appears on the labels of the country’s products, serve as an incentive to everyone to make economic and social decisions that foster participation and care for those in need.

It is by working in common accord, hand in hand, that today’s pressing challenges must be faced. I thank you for your hospitality, attention and respect, and with great affection I assure you that Canada and its people are truly close to my heart.

July 27, 2022

Catholic Church

Canada’s bishops want Vatican to issue new statement on Doctrine of Discovery

Many Indigenous people hoped Pope Francis would renounce the policy, which has been used to justify colonizing lands considered to be ‘uninhabited’

Pope Francis at a meeting with Indigenous Canadians at Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, July 25, 2022. PHOTO BY HANDOUT/VATICAN MEDIA/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

National Post: (Canadian Press) OTTAWA — Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican in the hope of issuing a new statement from the Catholic Church on the Doctrine of Discovery, the organizers of the papal visit said Wednesday.

Many Indigenous leaders and residential school survivors had hoped Pope Francis would renounce the policy, which stems from a series of edicts, known as papal bulls, dating back to the 15th century. Countries, including Canada, have used the doctrine to justify colonizing lands considered to be uninhabited, but were in fact home to Indigenous Peoples.

The pontiff did not directly mention the Doctrine of Discovery when he delivered his apology to residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alta., on Monday, which has prompted criticism it failed to fully recognize the role played by the Catholic Church in the residential school system.

Laryssa Waler, a spokeswoman for the papal visit, said Wednesday the Vatican has previously said the papal bulls linked to the doctrine have “no legal or moral authority” within the church. “However, we understand the desire to name these texts, acknowledge their impact and renounce the concepts associated with them,” she wrote in an email.

“Galvanized by the calls of our Indigenous partners, and by the Holy Father’s remarks, Canada’s bishops are working with the Vatican and those who have studied this issue, with the goal of issuing a new statement from the church,” she added. “Canada’s bishops continue to reject and resist the ideas associated with the Doctrine of Discovery in the strongest possible way.”

She also referred to parts of the Pope’s apology that she said “directly condemned” policies linked to the Doctrine of Discovery. She said that included when he said “many members of the church and of religious communities co-operated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.”

Earlier, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller said the “gaps” in the pontiff’s apology cannot be ignored. Miller stressed how the Pope’s words, delivered before a crowd of survivors and others gathered near Edmonton, are deeply important to those now absorbing them.

“This is still an emotional moment,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. The minister said Indigenous Peoples will decide for themselves what they think.

Criticisms of the apology include that Francis did not mention sexual abuse in his remarks, and he mentioned the “evil” committed by Christians, but not the Catholic Church as an institution.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) clearly called for a papal apology to be similar to the 2010 apology the Vatican gave to victims in Ireland, Miller said. The minister said that apology — delivered by Pope Benedict XVI through a letter — directly referred to the sexual abuses suffered by Irish children and the role played by the Catholic Church. “That is a clear distinction in the two,” said Miller. “The discrepancies speak for themselves.”

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO), which represents northern First Nations, said in a statement it was happy to see survivors receive an apology, but noted the omission of apologizing for sexual abuses.

“Saying sorry and acknowledging the harms that have been caused is just one step of many that need to happen. There is so much more work to be done.” “It was a bit surprising the Doctrine of Discovery was also not mentioned, but maybe it will be down the road,” MKO said in its statement.

Among the apology’s harshest critics was Murray Sinclair, who chaired the TRC.

Sinclair has said the Pope’s words left a “deep hole” in recognizing the full role the Catholic Church played in operating residential schools by highlighting the actions of Christians, not the church as an institution.

Miller, who travelled to Alberta for the papal visit, said the government will be seeking more detail on what Pope Francis meant when, in his apology, he said a “serious investigation” would be needed into what happened at residential schools.

The TRC, in writing its final report, collected testimony from more than 6,000 witnesses over six years.

July 25, 2022

Catholic Church

Full Text of Pope Francis apology to residential school survivors

“In the face of this deplorable evil, the church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children.” Pope Francis

INDIGENOUS WATCHDOG COMMENT: Not exactly an apology from the Catholic Church as an institution for its role in the operations of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. This is again an apology on behalf of “the children (priests, nuns and others)” of the church who were the more direct agents of sin against residential school students. The greater sinner, the Church – as the ultimate authority over its members – remains unnamed and unaccountable. While the sincerity of Pope Francis is palpable; the advise he is receiving, presumably from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, is a missed opportunity to affirm the foundational moral value of penance as one of the seven sacraments central to the Catholic faith and its representative throughout the world – the Catholic Church.

APTN News: Pope Francis delivered an apology to residential school survivors in Maskwacis in Treaty 6 territory on Monday after a visit to the former site of the Ermineskin Indian Residential School.

Here is the full text of his address:

Madam Governor General. Mr. Prime Minister. Dear Indigenous Peoples of Maskwacis and of this land of Canada. Dear brothers and sisters.

I have been waiting to come here and be with you. Here, from this place associated with painful memories, I would like to begin what I consider a penitential pilgrimage. I have come to your native lands to tell you in person of my sorrow, to implore God’s forgiveness, healing and reconciliation, to express my closeness and to pray with you and for you.

I recall the meetings we had in Rome four months ago. At that time, I was given two pairs of moccasins as a sign of the suffering endured by Indigenous children, particularly those who, unfortunately, never came back from the residential schools.

I was asked to return the moccasins when I came to Canada, and I will do so at the end of these few words, in which I would like to reflect on this symbol, which over the past few months has kept alive my sense of sorrow, indignation and shame.

The memory of those children is indeed painful; it urges us to work to ensure that every child is treated with love, honour and respect. At the same time, those moccasins also speak to us of a path to follow, a journey that we desire to make together.

We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.

That is why the first part of my pilgrimage among you takes place in this region, which from time immemorial has seen the presence of Indigenous Peoples. These are lands that speak to us; they enable us to remember.

To remember, brothers and sisters, you have lived on these lands for thousands of years, following ways of life that respect the Earth, which you received as a legacy from past generations and are keeping for those yet to come.

You have treated it as a gift of the Creator to be shared with others and to be cherished in harmony with all that exists, in profound fellowship with all living beings. In this way, you learned to foster a sense of family and community, and to build solid bonds between generations, honouring your elders and caring for your little ones.

A treasury of sound customs and teachings, centred on concern for others, truthfulness, courage and respect, humility, honesty and practical wisdom.

Yet if those were the first steps taken in these lands, the path of remembrance leads us, sadly, to those that followed. The place where we are gathered renews within me the deep sense of pain and remorse that I have felt in these past months.

I think back on the tragic situations that so many of you, your families and your communities have known; of what you shared with me about the suffering you endured in the residential schools. These are traumas that are in some way reawakened whenever the subject comes up; I realize too that our meeting today can bring back old memories and hurts, and that many of you may feel uncomfortable even as I speak.

Yet, it is right to remember, because forgetfulness leads to indifference and, as has been said the opposite of love is not hatred, it’s indifference and the opposite of life is not death, it’s indifference. To remember the devastating experiences that took place in the residential schools hurts, angers, causes pain, and yet it is necessary.

It is necessary to remember how the policies of assimilation and enfranchisement, which also included the residential school system, were devastating for the people of these lands. When the European colonists first arrived here, there was a great opportunity to bring about a fruitful encounter between cultures, traditions and forms of spirituality.

Yet, for the most part that did not happen. Again, I think back on the stories you told: how the policies of assimilation ended up systematically marginalizing the Indigenous Peoples; how also through the system of residential schools your languages and cultures were denigrated and suppressed; how children suffered physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse; how they were taken away from their homes at a young age, and how that indelibly affected relationships between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren.

I thank you for making me appreciate this, for telling me about the heavy burdens that you still bear, for sharing with me these bitter memories.

Today I am here, in this land that, along with its ancient memories, preserves the scars of still open wounds. I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the Indigenous Peoples.

I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the church and of religious communities co-operated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.

Although Christian charity was not absent, and there were many outstanding instances of devotion and care for children, the overall effects of the policies linked to the residential schools were catastrophic. What our Christian faith tells us is that this was a disastrous error, incompatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is painful to think of how the firm soil of values, language and culture that made up the authentic identity of your peoples was eroded, and that you have continued to pay the price of this. In the face of this deplorable evil, the church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the sins of her children. I myself wish to reaffirm this, with shame and unambiguously. I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous Peoples.

Dear brothers and sisters, many of you and your representatives have stated that begging pardon is not the end of the matter. I fully agree: that is only the first step, the starting point. I also recognize that, looking to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient and that, looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening.

An important part of this process will be to conduct a serious investigation into the facts of what took place in the past and to assist the survivors of the residential schools to experience healing from the traumas they suffered.

I trust and pray that Christians and civil society in this land may grow in the ability to accept and respect the identity and the experience of the Indigenous Peoples. It is my hope that concrete ways can be found to make those peoples better known and esteemed, so that all may learn to walk together.

For my part, I will continue to encourage the efforts of all Catholics to support the Indigenous Peoples. I have done so at various times and occasions, through meetings, appeals and also through the writing of an Apostolic Exhortation.

I realize that all this will require time and patience. We are speaking of processes that must penetrate hearts. My presence here and the commitment of the Canadian Bishops are a testimony to our will to persevere on this path.

Dear friends, this pilgrimage is taking place over several days and in places far distant from one another; even so, it will not allow me to accept the many invitations I have received to visit centres like Kamloops, Winnipeg and various places in Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Nonetheless, please know that all of you are in my thoughts and in my prayer. Know that I am aware of the sufferings and traumas, the difficulties and challenges, experienced by the Indigenous Peoples in every region of this country.

The words that I speak throughout this penitential journey are meant for every Native community and person. I embrace all of you with affection.

On this first step of my journey, I have wanted to make space for memory. Here, today, I am with you to recall the past, to grieve with you, to bow our heads together in silence and to pray before the graves.

Let us allow these moments of silence to help us interiorize our pain. Silence. And prayer. In the face of evil, we pray to the Lord of goodness; in the face of death, we pray to the God of life.

Our Lord Jesus Christ took a grave, which seemed the burial place of every hope and dream, leaving behind only sorrow, pain and resignation, and made it a place of rebirth and resurrection, the beginning of a history of new life and universal reconciliation.

Our own efforts are not enough to achieve healing and reconciliation: we need God’s grace. We need the quiet and powerful wisdom of the Spirit, the tender love of the Comforter.

May he bring to fulfilment the deepest expectations of our hearts. May he guide our steps and enable us to advance together on our journey.

For more coverage, please click here: Road to Truth: The Pope’s Visit 

July 13, 2022

Fed. Govt.

Ottawa announces $30M funding for Indigenous communities, organizations to mark papal visit

CBC: The federal government announced on Wednesday more than $30 million in new funding to support Indigenous communities and organizations during the upcoming papal visit. Pope Francis will tour Canada from July 24 to 29. The goal of the visit is to advance reconciliation and healing between the Roman Catholic Church, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

During the trip, he’s expected to expand on an apology he delivered at the Vatican last spring for residential school abuse in institutions run by his church.

Ottawa is making $30.2 million available to Indigenous communities and organizations to cover the travel costs of residential school survivors who want to see the Pope in person, according to a statement from the office of Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Marc Miller. The money can also be used for cultural events and ceremonies — however communities see fit to mark the historic occasion.

Survivors should get in touch with their local governments to arrange travel, said a senior government source who was not authorized to speak publicly. The same source said survivors travelling to see the Pope are eligible to bring a family member with them for support. The source also said communities and organizations are expected to learn by the end of the week how much they will receive for the papal visit, and the money will be distributed before the Pope arrives.

10 days to get money out the door

“I really feel it’s good news,” said residential school survivor Ted Quewezance from Keeseekoose First Nation, about 285 kilometres northeast of Regina. “The only issue is the timeframe.” Quewezance said planning for the visit feels like a big scramble. He’s worried the new federal funding is coming too late for some survivors.

Minister Miller said he is aware of those concerns. “That is perhaps our biggest worry: that people are out an arm and a leg,” said Miller in an interview with CBC News. “When people are just waiting to hear the words ‘I’m sorry’ from the Pope … We want to make sure that that experience isn’t prevented … simply by lack of funds.”

Miller said the funding will be distributed the same way COVID-19 supports were sent to communities. If some survivors are left with additional expenses, he said the government is prepared to offer more help.

“I can’t say that every single cost will be reimbursed by the Government of Canada, but what I can say is that communities will have options with respect to how they compensate survivors,” Miller said. 

Feds also covering cost of Pope’s security

An additional $3 million is being made available to Indigenous partners in the three regions — Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit — that are hosting the papal visit, according to Miller’s office. It added another $2 million will be spent on Indigenous language interpretation for the papal visit.

Ottawa is also covering the cost of the Pope’s security. The exact details have not been announced.

More than 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forced to attend church-run, government-funded residential schools between the 1870s and 1997.

The Roman Catholic Church ran most of the institutions. 

In its final report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission urged the Pope to apologize on Canadian soil for the church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. 

It demanded that the apology be made within one year of the release of its report in 2015.

April 15, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis likely to visit Edmonton, Québec City and Iqaluit

Pope Francis is expected to visit at least three cities during a late July trip to Canada, CBC News has learned.

Sources involved in the planning of the trip say the Pope will likely make stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit during what is scheduled to be about a four-day trip to the country. CBC News is not identifying the confidential sources because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Sources say the trip with the three planned stops — which will be funded by the Canadian Catholic Church, with possible federal dollars — was in discussion before the Vatican meetings.

The delegates who travelled to Rome expect Pope Francis to deliver a fulsome apology on Canadian soil for the church’s role in running residential schools, which would fulfil a key call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Métis National Council president Cassidy Caron said Vatican advance teams have already scouted Iqaluit, Quebec City and Edmonton in preparation for the trip.

If the Pope goes to Edmonton, Caron said she hopes he will also take the opportunity to visit ​the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage grounds, designated a national historic site of Canada, 78 kilometres to the northwest. “It is a special site,” she said. “A spiritual site, a healing site for Métis people.”

In Rome, Pope Francis said he wanted to attend the annual pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne, which takes place from July 25 to 28 this year.

In a statement to CBC News, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said it is consulting national Indigenous organizations on dates and locations, which have not yet been finalized, and will continue those discussions for the programming of the visit if and when it is confirmed. The Vatican has the ultimate say, and sources said a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks. 

July 23, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis Schedule for visit to Canada

The Papal Visit to Canada secretariat has been created by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the national assembly of the Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948. The Papal Visit team is working closely with numerous partners including the Vatican, Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers and survivors of residential schools along with government officials at the federal, provincial and municipal levels as we prepare for this historic visit.


Sunday July 24, 2022
11:20 AM: Arrival of Pope Francis in Canada

Edmonton International Airport, Alberta KNOW MORE 

Monday, July 25, 2022
10:00 AM: Meeting with Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Métis and Inuit

Former Ermineskin Residential School, Maskwacis, Alberta KNOW MORE 

4:45 PM: Meeting with Indigenous peoples and members of the parish community of Sacred Heart

Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, Edmonton, Alberta KNOW MORE 

Tuesday, July 26, 2022
9:15 AM: Holy Mass at Commonwealth Stadium

Commonwealth Stadium, Edmonton, Alberta KNOW MORE


5:00 PM: Pilgrimage to the site of Lac Ste. Anne and Liturgy of the Word

Lac Ste. Anne, Alberta KNOW MORE 

Wednesday, July 27, 2022
9:00 AM: Departure of Pope Francis from Edmonton to Quebec City

Edmonton International Airport, Alberta KNOW MORE 


Wednesday, July 27, 2022,
3:05 PM: Arrival of Pope Francis in Quebec City

Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Quebec City, Quebec KNOW MORE 

3:40 PM: *Visit with State Officials and Public Address

Citadelle de Québec / Plains of Abraham, Quebec
*Event held on the Plains of Abraham KNOW MORE 

*To be present on the Plains of Abraham during the July 27th event or for the broadcast event on July 28,
please register.


Thursday, July 28, 2022
10:00 AM: *Holy Mass at the National Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré

National Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec
*Broadcast event on the Plains of Abraham KNOW MORE

5:15 PM: Vespers with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians and pastoral workers 

Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Québec, Quebec City, Quebec KNOW MORE 

*To be present on the Plains of Abraham during the July 27th event or for the broadcast event on July 28,
please register.


Friday, July 29, 2022
9:00 AM: Private meeting with the members of the Society of Jesus

Archbishop’s Residence, Quebec City, Quebec KNOW MORE 

10:45 AM: Meeting with a delegation of Indigenous peoples from Eastern Canada

Archbishop’s residence, Quebec City, Quebec KNOW MORE 

12:45 PM: Departure of Pope Francis from Quebec City

Québec City Jean Lesage International Airport, Quebec City, Quebec KNOW MORE 


3:50 PM: Arrival of Pope Francis to Iqaluit

Iqaluit International Airport, Iqaluit, Nunavut KNOW MORE 

4:15 PM: Private meeting with former residential school students

Iqaluit, Nunavut KNOW MORE 

5:00 PM: Public Event in Iqaluit Hosted by Inuit

Iqaluit, Nunavut KNOW MORE 

6:15 PM: Farewell Ceremony / Departure of Pope Francis from Canada

Iqaluit International Airport KNOW MORE

June 24, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis to vist residential school

Toronto Star – The program for Pope Francis’s trip to Canada next month includes a visit to the site of a former Alberta residential school with survivors, the Vatican said Thursday. The papal visit is set to start in Edmonton on July 24 and end in Iqaluit on July 29. It is to include public and private events with an emphasis on Indigenous participation.

“We pray this pilgrimage will serve as another meaningful step in the long journey of healing, reconciliation and hope,” said Archbishop Richard Smith of Edmonton, the general coordinator of the papal visit to Canada.

Pope Francis is expected to deliver an apology for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools during the journey to Canada. On April 1, after meetings over several days with First Nations, Inuit and Métis groups at the Vatican, the Pope apologized for the deplorable conduct of church members involved in residential schools.

Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Edmonton on July 24 to a brief ceremony at the airport. The next day he is set to join survivors at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis south of the city.

Gilda Soosay, a member of Samson Cree Nation, is calling the Pope’s visit to Maskwacis a “miraculous event” for her people. “It’s a step forward to the path of healing for the Indigenous people. … We have to look forward to what’s coming for our people, our grandchildren and the children coming after that,” said Soosay, who is part of the church committee in Maskwacis preparing for the pope’s visit. “We need to begin a healing process for our people here in Maskwacis.”

Ermineskin was one of the largest institutions in Canada. Smith said it “will have a representative role for all residential schools.” He anticipates the apology will come in front of survivors at the school.

Francis is also scheduled to visit Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, an Indigenous church in downtown Edmonton, on July 25. The church was recently restored after a significant fire in 2020.

Fernie Marty, an elder originally from Cold Lake, Alta., said he is filled with excitement and nervousness at meeting Pope Francis. “We have a unique history happening here. It’s important for my own personal healing to continue,” said Marty, who is a day school survivor and works at Sacred Heart Church.

The following day, Francis is scheduled to attend a mass at Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Edmonton Elks CFL team, which can hold about 65,000 people. The pontiff is to go to Lac Ste. Anne that evening where a large pilgrimage takes place each year.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that due to the 85-year-old Pope’s advanced age and limitations, Francis will take part in public events for about one hour.

The Pope is next scheduled to travel to Quebec City on July 27, where he is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Gov. Gen. Mary Simon. He is to have private meetings at La Citadelle and later deliver a public address. The pontiff is then scheduled to travel to Ste-Anne-de-Beaupré on July 28 for a mass at the shrine there. Between 10,000 and 15,000 guests are anticipated to attend.

The Canadian bishops said the public is also invited to a dedicated area during the Quebec City leg of the journey to watch the papal events on large screens and take part in Indigenous cultural events.

Francis is scheduled to meet with Indigenous leaders from Eastern Canada on July 29 before flying to Iqaluit. There, Francis will have a private meeting with residential school survivors before attending a public community event.

The Pope’s priority during the visit is the relationship with Indigenous Peoples, Smith said, adding the pontiff has heard the cry for reconciliation and the longing for hope. “This is one step in the journey,” Smith said. “But it’s a huge step that has enormous positive possibilities associated with it in moving this relationship forward in a good way.”

The program’s release comes as some worried the pontiff’s health may delay the journey to Canada.

It’s a step forward to the path of healing for the Indigenous people. … We have to look forward to what’s coming for our people, our grandchildren and the children coming after that.

May 13, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope Francis visit to Edmonton, Québec City and Iqaluit confirmed for July 24-30

Globe and Mail: Pope Francis will visit Canada in July in a cross-country tour that will take in Quebec City, Edmonton and Iqaluit, the Vatican confirmed Friday, in a trip intended to address the Catholic Church’s harmful legacy of running the majority of the country’s residential schools.

The visit will take place from July 24 to July 30, a somewhat longer trip than had been expected for the increasingly frail pontiff, who is 85 and was recently spotted in a wheelchair for the first time because of chronic pain in his right knee. The Vatican press office gave no other details of his trip, saying that information on the full program “will be published in the coming weeks.”

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in a separate release that the visit to specific sites will be planned in dialogue with Indigenous partners, and that Pope Francis is expected to visit the site of a former residential school while he is here.

Some First Nations leaders said they are disappointed the locations don’t appear to include sites where unmarked graves were announced last year, and say there was inadequate consultation with survivors and leaders.

The CCAB release noted the significance of the three stops: Edmonton has the second-largest number of Indigenous peoples in urban areas in Canada; Iqaluit has the highest population of Inuit and the Pope was invited there by Inuit representatives; and Quebec City as the eastern hub has one of the oldest and largest pilgrimage sites in North America.

When asked why the Pope isn’t visiting Kamloops or other locations of unmarked graves, the archbishop cited the Pope’s mobility issues. “What’s really directing this is the Pope’s limited ability to get around,” he said, adding that travel by helicopter, long trips by car and frequent changes of location are too difficult. “What [the Vatican] has said is we’re going to have to choose places as hubs that will allow him to access sites that will be meaningful, but easily accessible within a short space of time.”

He said the Pope will visit a former residential school site, but made no promises that he will visit a site of unmarked graves.

A full itinerary and schedule is expected to be released six to eight weeks before the visit.

July 30, 2022

Catholic Church

Pope says Indigenous people suffered genocide at residential schools

Toronto Star: ROME – Pope Francis says the abuses Indigenous Peoples faced while being forced to attend residential schools amounted to genocide. The pontiff made the comment Friday to reporters on his flight from Iqaluit back to Rome following his six-day tour of Canada.

Francis apologized multiple times throughout the week for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in the institutions. He begged for forgiveness for abuses committed by some members of the church as well as for cultural destruction and forced assimilation.

Some Indigenous people said they were disappointed that during his visit the Pope did not name the crimes and abuses that students and survivors faced. They also criticized him for not using the term genocide.

When asked if he would use the word genocide and accept that members of the church participated in genocide, Francis said yes. The Pope said he didn’t think to use the word genocide during his trip, calling it a technical term.

“I asked for forgiveness for what has been done, which was genocide, and I did condemn this,” he said in Spanish through a translator.  Francis said instead of using the word genocide he described the attempts at destroying Indigenous Peoples through assimilation and colonization. “To take away children, to change the culture, their mindset, their traditions — to change a race, an entire culture … yes I (do) use the word genocide.”

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission referred to residential schools as a form of cultural genocide when it released its final report in 2015. But since then a number of Indigenous groups have amended this to say it was genocide. 

Leah Gazan, an Manitoba NDP member of Parliament, tabled a motion in the House of Commons last year calling on the federal government to recognize what happened at residential schools as a genocide, but it did not gain unanimous consent. 

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls concluded in its final report that violence against women and girls is a form of genocide. The effects of residential schools were the subject of many testimonies from families and survivors. 

Neglect and physical and sexual abuse were rampant in the schools, and the Catholic Church ran 60 per cent of the institutions. Throughout his Canadian visit, Francis expressed sorrow, indignation and shame. 

“In the face of this deplorable evil, the church kneels before God and implores his forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous Peoples,” he said Monday to a group of residential school survivors and their families gathered in Maskwacis, Alta.

Throughout his stops in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut, the Pope was met with messages urging him to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery, papal bulls or official declarations that were developed to justify the colonization of the Americas. The doctrine was connected to thinking that lands being colonized were empty, when in fact they were home to Indigenous Peoples.  Some Indigenous academics say the doctrine underlies all the policies that came after it. Indigenous leaders have been calling for decades for it to be rescinded and the messaging ramped up before and during the Pope’s visit. 

Many said they were disappointed it was not part of the Pope’s apologies.

He was asked on the plane Friday if he thought it was a missed opportunity to provide a concrete action toward reconciliation. “Colonization is bad. It’s unfair and even today it’s used. Perhaps with silk and gloves, but it is used all the same,” he said.

“Let us be aware that colonization is not over. The same colonization is there today as well.”

Vatican officials have said a statement on the matter is to come.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, who helped organize the papal trip, said in a statement that the bishops plan to work with the Vatican to have it addressed.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2022.

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