Edmonton, Canada, Jul 26 (EFE).- Pope Francis held a mass Tuesday for some 50,000 people in the Canadian city of Edmonton in which he urged people to never oppress the conscience of others.
“Let us try to learn as individuals and as the Church to never oppress the conscience of others, never strip the freedom of those close to us and, above all, never stop loving and respecting the people who came before us and have been entrusted to us,” the pontiff said.
Pope Francis dedicated Tuesday’s holy mass to grandparents and the elderly on the occasion of Saints Anne and Joachim Day, the parents of the Virgin Mary, which is celebrated on July 26.
The pontiff called for a “better future in which the elderly are not discarded”.
“A future that does not judge the value of people only by what they produce, a future that is not indifferent towards the elderly who need more time to listen and understand, a future in which the history of violence and marginalization suffered by our indigenous brothers and sisters is not repeated,” he said.
The pontiff is on what he has called a “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada in which he has apologized for the “evil” committed by the Catholic Church during the so-called “process of assimilation”.
Between the early 1880s and mid-1990s, over 150,000 indigenous children were sent to Cathonlic-run boarding schools across the country as part of the “process of assimilation” in Canada.
The children were separated from their families, language and culture in what Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called a “cultural genocide”.
Many of the children were physically and sexually abused by teachers and headmasters and it has been estimated that over 4,000 children died from mistreatment and malnutrition.
The pontiff said he hoped his journey to Canada would help the “process of healing and reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples”.
Following the mass, Pope Francis will visit Lake St. Ann outside the city of Edmonton, a sacred place for the indigenous people that has become a place of pilgrimage for Catholics.EFE