Jul 17, 2022 - World

Pope calls Canada visit "pilgrimage of penance" for Indigenous abuses

 Pope Francis attends the 10th World Meeting of Families closing Mass in St. Peter's Square on June 25.

Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, Vatican, in June. Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images

Pope Francis said Sunday his visit to Canada will be a "pilgrimage of penance" that he hopes can help in the country's healing over the Catholic Church's role in the abuse of generations of Indigenous children.

What he's saying: "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 during his weekly address to people in St. Peter's Square ahead of his July 24-30 trip to Canada.

The big picture: Discoveries of unmarked graves in Canada at former residential schools renewed calls for the pope to apologize for abuse suffered by children forced to "assimilate" into white society from the 19th to the late 20th centuries.

  • Francis met with Indigenous leaders from Canada in March and April during which he expressed his "pain and solidarity over the evil that they endured," the pontiff said Sunday.
  • The pope apologized publicly in April for the abuses, which Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has described as "cultural genocide."

What to watch: He's expected to apologize to Indigenous groups in Canada during his visit to Edmonton, Maskwacis, Lac Ste Anne, Quebec and Iqaluit in Canada’s Arctic territory, per Al Jazeera.

Go deeper: Pope Francis agrees to visit Canada amid Indigenous school scandal

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