Vatican City, Jul 24 (EFE).- Pope Francis traveled on Sunday to Canada for what he has called a “penitential pilgrimage” in which he plans to apologize to the indigenous community for the harm done by the Catholic church during the so-called “process of assimilation”.
The pontiff said he hoped his journey to Canada would help the “process of healing and reconciliation with the country’s indigenous peoples” after the abuse committed to thousands of indigenous children in Catholic-run schools across the country.
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 so-called “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.
“Unfortunately, in Canada, many Christians, including some members of religious institutes, have contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation that, in the past, have severely harmed indigenous communities in various ways,” the Pope said in an address a week ahead of his departure.
Pope Francis is set to land in the western city of Edmonton Sunday where he will be greeted by Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau and lieutenant governor of Alberta, Salma Lakhani.
His trip includes visits to the provinces of Alberta, Quebec and the northern territory of Nunavut as well as a visit to one of the schools. He will be in Canada until Friday. EFE