Status: 07/25/2022 04:53 am
Despite ailing health, the Pope has arrived in Canada. The visit is important to him. He wants to apologize for what church workers have done to indigenous children.
In Maskwacis, which means “hill of the bear” in the language of the indigenous people Cree, Pope Francis will address the representatives of the indigenous people of Canada in his first address. In the village about 100 kilometers south of Edmonton, he will first be greeted by some elders of the First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit, after which Francis will linger in silent prayer at the cemetery.
His visit, the Pope emphasized on the outward flight to Canada, was a journey of penance. The head of the Catholic Church is expected to apologize for what church workers did to indigenous children.
“It’s a Beginning”
“This apology validates our experience and creates an opportunity for the church to repair ties with tribal people worldwide,” tribal leader George Arcand Jr. said before the arrival of the head of the Catholic Church. But “it doesn’t stop there – there’s a lot to do. It’s a start.”
From the middle of the 19th century, boys and girls were put in so-called residential schools, where they were supposed to adapt to the culture of the European immigrants. But in the boarding schools set up by the Canadian state, the children were usually brutally expelled from their own origins, they were mistreated and also abused. Many died, often from malnutrition, epidemics or neglect. Most of the boarding schools were run by Christian communities, and there was a large school in Maskwacis.
Government paid billions in compensation
The Canadian government has already acknowledged physical abuse and sexual violence in schools. In 2008, then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized. The government paid billions in compensation, which was transferred to indigenous communities.
A Canadian commission called for a papal apology on Canadian soil in 2015. After the remains of around 200 children were found on the property of a former school in the Canadian province of British Columbia last year, the Vatican took steps to implement the apology.
During the six-day journey, Francis will meet with Canadian natives again and again, with another meeting planned for the afternoon at a church in Edmonton. In addition, the 85-year-old Francis will celebrate two major Masses and take part in the traditional pilgrimage to Lac Sainte-Anne.
Pope Francis meets indigenous people in Maskwacis, Canada
Elisabeth Pongratz, ARD Rome, currently Edmonton, 25.7.2022 2:15 a.m