Pope to visit Canada in July amid schools abuse scandal
May 13, 2022 07:38 PM
Pope Francis will travel to Canada for a week at the end of July, where he is expected to meet Indigenous survivors of abuse committed at church-run residential schools.
The 85-year-old, who will visit the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, apologised last month to Indigenous delegations who visited him at the Vatican over a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.
Numerous investigations into the former residential schools are underway after the discovery of mass unmarked graves, with more than 4,000 children believed to be missing.
Further details on the visit will be published in the coming weeks, the Vatican said.
Francis had earlier said he was keen to visit Canada, but the trip was far from certain due to a painful knee problem which recently saw him forced to use a wheelchair.
A visit to Lebanon initially planned for June was postponed earlier this month over health concerns.
The pope's Canada trip will coincide with the country's St Anne's Feast Day on July 26.
Francis is expected to repeat his apology to school abuse survivors and relatives of victims.
Some 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 1800s to the 1990s in 139 residential schools across Canada, as part of a government policy of forced assimilation.
They spent months or years isolated from their families, language and culture, and many were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers.
In April, Francis slammed the "ideological colonisation" of which "so many children have been victims".
"Your identity and culture have been wounded, many families have been separated," he said.
He described as "chilling" the "unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas".
Thousands are believed to have died of disease, malnutrition or neglect. More than 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered since May 2021 at the schools.
A truth and reconciliation commission concluded in 2015 the failed government policy amounted to "cultural genocide".