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Pope Visits Canada to Heal 'Evil' Done to Indigenous Canadians

Updated: Jul 19, 2022

Pope Francis said on Sunday his trip to Canada next week will be a "pilgrimage of penance" that he hopes can help heal the wrongs done to Indigenous people by abusive residential schools.

Pope Francis will tour three regions — Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit — from July 24 to 29. During the trip, he's expected to expand on an apology he delivered at the Vatican this past spring for residential school abuse in institutions run by his church.

"Unfortunately in Canada many Christians, including some members of religious orders, contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation that in the past gravely damaged native populations in various ways," Francis said at his weekly address to people in St. Peter's Square.

About 150,000 children were taken from their homes. Many were subjected to physical and sexual abuse in what Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2015 called "cultural genocide."

The aim of the schools, which operated between 1831 and 1996, was to assimilate Indigenous children. They were run by Christian denominations on behalf of the government, most by the Catholic Church.

The schools were at the centre of discussions between the Pope and Indigenous people at the Vatican in March and April. Recalling the meetings, Francis said on Sunday he had expressed "my pain and solidarity over the evil that they endured."

"I am about to make a pilgrimage of penance, which, I hope that with the grace of God can contribute to the path of healing and reconciliation that already has been started," he said. He appealed for the faithful to "accompany me with prayers" during the trip.

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