Updated: Nov 2, 2021
In a brief statement, the Holy See’s press office said that 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.”
In return, Francis “has indicated his willingness to visit the country on a date to be settled in due course,” the statement said.
Presently, the Pope has 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. The bishops conference said he will 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.
On Wednesday, Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins said that the December encounters will help lay the groundwork for the Canadian pilgrimage. “Over the course of several days, through authentic listening and dialogue, Pope Francis will hear directly from those who have suffered,” said the cardinal in a statement.
Collins said that his country’s bishops had apologized earlier this year as they “sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous peoples that continue to this day.”
The cardinal added that he was praying the pope’s visit will allow for healing “through authentic encounters of compassion, understanding and reconciliation.”
The newly elected head of the Canadian bishops’ conference, Bishop Raymond Poisson, expressed hope that the pope’s visit to Canada “will be a significant milestone in the journey toward reconciliation and healing.”