VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican says Pope Francis has agreed to visit Canada to help ongoing efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous peoples following shocking revelations of the Catholic church’s role in the abuse and deaths of thousands of native children.
In a brief statement on Wednesday, the Vatican said the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited the pope to make an apostolic journey to Canada “also in the context of the long-standing pastoral process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.” The Vatican says Francis has indicated his “willingness” to visit Canada at a date to be determined.
Given the time usually required to organize an overseas papal visit, it appeared unlikely such a pilgrimage could happen this year.
A few months ago, Francis agreed to meet in December with Indigenous survivors of Canada’s notorious residential schools amid calls for a papal apology for the Catholic Church’s role. At that time, the bishops conference said the pontiff had had invited the delegations to the Vatican and would meet separately with three groups — First Nations, Metis and Inuit — during their Dec. 17-20 visit. The pope will then preside over a final audience with all three groups Dec. 20, according to the bishops group.
The Associated Press