Papal Visit to Canada-July 24-29, 2022

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English version of the Homily –

The Holy Father will travel within Alberta (based in Edmonton) from July 24-27, followed by a visit to Quebec City and Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré, July 27-29. Pope Francis will visit Iqaluit, Nunavut the afternoon of July 29 before returning to Rome. 

Pope Francis’ First Speech of his Penitential Pilgrimage.

The words sorry, shame, pain, and indignation resounded strongly in Pope Francis’ first public speech of his penitential pilgrimage to Canada.

“I thank you for making me appreciate this, for telling me about the heavy burdens that you still bear, for sharing with me these bitter memories. Today I am here, in this land that, along with its ancient memories, preserves the scars of still open wounds. 

I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples. 

I am sorry. I ask forgiveness, in particular, for the ways in which many members of the Church and of religious communities cooperated, not least through their indifference, in projects of cultural destruction and forced assimilation promoted by the governments of that time, which culminated in the system of residential schools.” 

~Pope Francis, July 25, 2022 at the meeting with Indigenous peoples, First Nations, Métis and Inuit at the Former Ermineskin Residential School, Maskwacis, AB. 

Photo credit: Neil McCarthy, Archdiocese of Toronto

Returning the Moccasins
“I recall the meetings we had in Rome four months ago. At that time, I was given two pairs of moccasins as a sign of the suffering endured by indigenous children, particularly those who, unfortunately, never came back from the residential schools. I was asked to return the moccasins when I came to Canada; I brought them, and I will return them at the end of these few words, in which I would like to reflect on this symbol, which over the past few months has kept alive my sense of sorrow, indignation and shame.  The memory of those children is indeed painful; it urges us to work to ensure that every child is treated with love, honour and respect. At the same time, those moccasins also speak to us of a path to follow, a journey that we desire to make together. We want to walk together, to pray together and to work together, so that the sufferings of the past can lead to a future of justice, healing and reconciliation.” Pope Francis, July 25, at Maskwacis
Photo credit: Vatican News

Apostolic Journey to Canada: Meeting with indigenous peoples: First nations, Métis and Inuit at Maskwacis (25 July 2022) | Francis (

Pope Francis addresses members of Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples

Pope Francis meets with members of the Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples in Edmonton, and says that reconciliation is a gift of Christ to move forward in the wake of the pain caused by the Church’s role in the Canadian residential school system. 

“Nothing can ever take away the violation of dignity, the experience of evil, the betrayal of trust. Or take away our own shame, as believers. Yet we need to set out anew, and Jesus does not offer us nice words and good intentions, but the cross: the scandalous love that allows his hands and feet to be pierced by nails, and his head to be crowned with thorns.”

Pope Francis went on to say that the Church is the “living body of reconciliation”, since she is the one body in which Christ has reconciled us. 

“Jesus reconciles us with one another on the cross, on the ‘tree of life’, as the ancient Christians loved to call it.” 

That tree of life, said Pope Francis, joins heaven and earth and embraces all creation, even things that seemed “unthinkable and unforgiveable.”

“Jesus, through the four extremities of His cross, has embraced the four cardinal points and has brought together the most distant peoples; He has brought healing and peace to all things,” he said.

May God, he concluded, “take us by the hand, and even through the deserts of history, and continue to guide our steps on the way of reconciliation.”

Pope Francis’ address to Canadian civil authorities, Indigenous representatives, and the diplomatic corps

Upon arrival in Québec City, Pope Francis visited La Citadelle, where he took part in private meetings. Pope Francis, as both a spiritual leader and head of state, also offered a public address.

Addressing authorities, diplomats and Indigenous in Québec, Pope Francis decries the “deplorable system” of historic residential schools in Canada, calling it a tragic example of ‘cancel culture,’ and calls for concretely “promoting the legitimate rights of the indigenous populations and to favour processes of healing and reconciliation between them and the non-indigenous people of the country.”

“I express my deep shame and sorrow, and, together with the bishops of this country, I renew my request for forgiveness for the wrong done by so many Christians to the indigenous peoples. It is tragic when some believers, as happened in that period of history, conform themselves to the conventions of the world rather than to the Gospel.”

The Christian faith, he recognized, has played an essential role in shaping the highest ideals of Canada, characterized by the desire to build a better country for all its people.  “At the same time,” he continued, “it is necessary, in admitting our faults, to work together to accomplish a goal that I know all of you share: to promote the legitimate rights of the native populations and to favour processes of healing and reconciliation between them and the non-indigenous people of the country.”

This, he said, is reflected in the commitment to respond in a fitting way to the appeals of the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation, as well as in the concern to acknowledge the rights of the native peoples.

“It is our desire to renew the relationship between the Church and the indigenous peoples of Canada, a relationship marked both by a love that has borne outstanding fruit and, tragically, deep wounds that we are committed to understanding and healing,” he said.

“That “history of suffering and contempt”, the fruit of the colonizing mentality, the Pope observed, “does not heal easily.” 

In addition to this apology and this denouncing of the wrongdoings done to Indigenous, the Pope called for multilateralism. Acknowledging that inclusion of new arrivals can be a challenge and requires accepting and embracing differences, the Pope applauded Canada for the generosity shown in accepting many Ukrainian and Afghan migrants.

The Holy Father also reflected on war in the world, as the war wages on in Ukraine and several wars, often forgotten, take place globally.

Pope Francis concluded by thanking Canada and those before him for their hospitality, attention and respect. “With great affection, I assure you that Canada and its people are truly close to my heart.”

Source: Vatican News – Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring

The time we spent together made an impression on me and left a firm desire to respond to the indignation and shame for the sufferings endured by the indigenous peoples, and to move forward on a fraternal and patient journey with all Canadians… for healing and reconciliation…. inspired by hope.” Pope Francis, July 27

Pope’s apology echoes across Saskatchewan (Global News)

“The pope’s apology is not asking for instant trust. Today I am willing to extend my hand to the pope and to the bishops.” ~Ted Quewezance, an elder the Keeseekoose First Nation in Saskatchewan. 

“I do have hope. I always have hope, when we walk together — the pope is leading us that way — things are better.”Norman Meade 

“It’s just very powerful, for me, it’s the healing.” ~Tammy Ward, Samson First Nation

I think it’s important to keep in mind that healing and reconciliation can be best achieved by forgiveness, and here we had the Holy Father before us seeking forgiveness. We have to also bring us to a place where we can forgive. So, for some, that’s a very difficult step to take; for others they’ve taken that step and probably took it years ago, and that made it possible for that person to carry on the process of healing and reconciliation.”  ~Former AFN Chief, Phil Fontaine

Mass for Reconciliation at the National Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré, Quebec

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Shine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré in eastern Canada, near Quebec, and recalls that Jesus always walks with us to help us move beyond our failures toward hope in God.

The Pope traveled by car to the oldest pilgrimage site in North America, which was first built in 1658 to house a miraculous statue of Jesus’ grandmother.

In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the conclusion of Luke’s Gospel, which recounts the journey of the disciples to Emmaus and their encounter with Jesus, whom they did not initially recognize.

Like the disciples, we too can experience failure in our own spiritual journey when our plans fall through, when we give up on our high ideals due to our own inadequacies, or when we feel crushed by our sins.

Pope Francis said the Church community experiences similar setbacks when faced with “the scandal of evil and the violence that led to Calvary.”

“[Fleeing] is a temptation that comes from the enemy, who threatens our spiritual journey and that of the Church, for he wants us to think that all our failures are now irreversible.”

“What are we to do, as we endure spiritual and material trials, as we seek the path to a more just and fraternal society, as we strive to recover from our disappointments and weariness, as we hope to be healed of past wounds and to be reconciled with God and with one another?”

The answer lies in Jesus Himself, said the Pope, since He always comes to us to “show us the way to healing and reconciliation.”

Pope Francis encouraged the Church in Canada to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the other women of Easter morning who showed the disciples the truth of Jesus’ Resurrection.

“The tender maternal love of so many women can accompany us – as Church – towards new and fruitful times, leaving behind so much barrenness and death, and putting the crucified and risen Jesus back at the centre,” he said.

If we place Jesus back at the centre of our lives and faith, concluded Pope Francis, then we can be reconciled “with God, with others, and with ourselves” and become “instruments of reconciliation and peace within our societies.”

Source and photo credit: Vatican News

Pope Francis stopped to greet guests at the Fraternité St Alphonse Center, which welcomes around 50 people, including the elderly, people suffering from various addictions, and HIV/AIDS patients. The Pope listened to their stories and gifted them with an icon of the Virgin Mary “Most Holy Lady of Jerusalem”. (Vatican News)

Vespers at Quebec’s Cathedral of Notre-Dame

At Vespers in the Notre-Dame de Québec Cathedral, Pope Francis invites the Bishops, clergy, religious, and pastoral workers in Canada to overcome the challenges that hinder the proclamation of the joy of faith, and asks forgiveness for the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people by some members of the Church. 

He pointed out that readings at the vespers speak about elders (presbyters), noting that St. Peter urged them to tend the flock of God willingly, and so, the Church’s pastors are invited “to show that same generosity in tending the flock, in order to manifest Jesus’ concern for everyone and his compassion for the wounds of each.”

“If we look to Christ, the Good Shepherd, before looking to ourselves, we will discover that we are ourselves “tended” with merciful love; we will feel the closeness of God. This is the source of the joy of ministry and above all the joy of faith. It is not about all the things that we can accomplish, but about knowing that God is ever close to us, that he loved us first, and that he accompanies us every day of our lives.”

Pope Francis cautions against falling “prey to pessimism or resentment, passing immediately to negative judgments or a vain nostalgia.” We are called “to have a view similar to that of God, who discerns what is good and persistently seeks it, sees it and nurtures it. This is no naïve view, but a view that discerns reality,” Pope Francis insists.

To refine our discernment of the secularized world, the Holy Father recommends drawing inspiration from Paul VI who saw secularization as “the effort, in itself just and legitimate and in no way incompatible with faith or religion” to discover the laws governing reality and human life implanted by the Creator. 

Secularization, continued the Pope, “demands that we reflect on the changes in society that have influenced the way in which people think about and organize their lives” – not the diminished social relevance of the Church.

In a spirit of fraternity, Pope Francis suggested three challenges that can shape our prayer and pastoral service.

First, “to make Jesus known.” 

“This calls for a pastoral creativity capable of reaching people where they are living, – not they come to us – where they are living, finding opportunities for listening, dialogue and encounter. We need to return to the simplicity and enthusiasm of the Acts of the Apostles, to the beauty of realizing that we are instruments of the Spirit’s fruitfulness today.”

Second, “witness

The Gospel is preached effectively when life itself speaks and reveals the freedom that sets others free, the compassion that asks for nothing in return, the mercy that silently speaks of Christ.

“Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims. The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: never again! … never again can the Christian community allow itself to be infected by the idea that one culture is superior to others, or that it is legitimate to employ ways of coercing others.”

Third, “fraternity

The Church will be a credible witness to the Gospel the more its members embody communion, creating opportunities and situations that enable all those who approach the faith to encounter a welcoming community, one capable of listening, entering into dialogue and promoting quality relationships. 

“Let us not allow the spirit of secularism to enter our midst, thinking that we can create plans that work automatically, and by human effort alone, apart from God, in the idolatry of projects. And, please, let us not close ourselves off by “looking back”, but press forward, with joy!”

Source and photo credit: Vatican News

We must begin with ourselves: pastors, who should not feel themselves superior to our brothers and sisters in the People of God; consecrated persons, who should live fraternally with the freedom of obedience in life in community; seminarians, who should prepare themselves to become docile and available servants; and pastoral workers, who should not understand service as power. This is where we must start.” ~Pope Francis, Vespers, July 28, 2022.

Canada’s Catholic Bishops are thankful for the Historic Visit from Pope Francis

July 29, 2022 The Bishops of Canada are thankful for Pope Francis’ historic visit to our country. He came in fulfilment of his promise to manifest by his very presence his closeness to the Indigenous Peoples of this land. This visit represents a significant milestone on the path of healing and reconciliation.

In his various public and private addresses, he gave a heartfelt and solemn apology to Indigenous Peoples on behalf of the Catholic Church, spoke of his admiration for Indigenous culture and spirituality, expressed profound sadness at the lasting impact of colonization, acknowledged the catastrophic impact of the residential school system, and sought forgiveness for abuses, including sexual abuses, that were committed by members of the Church.

The Holy Father called on us to continue to assist survivors and families in healing from the traumas they have suffered. We have heard this call and will be reviewing an updated action plan during our National Plenary Assembly this fall. It is our hope that the relationships forged in this planning process, particularly with Indigenous partners at both the national and local levels, will grow well beyond this visit and serve as the foundation for the work that lies ahead. In conversations with our Indigenous sisters and brothers, we have heard:

  • Calls for greater transparency with the preservation and disclosure of residential schoolrecords;
  • Asks for support to address the issue of Indigenous artifacts housed at the Vatican Museum;
  • A desire to affirm the inherent rights of Indigenous people and to clarify the historical policies and principles often referred to as the “Doctrine of Discovery”;
  • An invitation to walk with First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities in addressingsystemic injustices which continue today; and
  • To financially support initiatives that advance healing and reconciliation.

This guidance will be instrumental to our next steps as we seek to walk together in a new way. During our 2021 Plenary Assembly, the Canadian Bishops pledged to promote access to records, educate clergy on Indigenous cultures and spirituality, continue dialogue with Indigenous communities and engagement with the Vatican regarding artifacts, and commit $30 million for what would eventually become an Indigenous Reconciliation Fund. We are grateful to the Indigenous partners, governments and faithful Catholics who have helped us make meaningful progress on these commitments, while recognizing that significant work lies ahead. Reconciliation is a journey that involves all of us, and the Holy Father’s presence has been a source of hope and inspiration for Canadians across the country. We would like to sincerely thank the Survivors for their bravery and openness to be a part of these encounters with the Holy Father and to the Indigenous partners for their assistance in the planning process. We are blessed to have been part of this penitential pilgrimage and conclude this week with renewed hope for walking together towards a better future.

Pope Francis leaves Quebec for Iqaluit, the northernmost city of Canada, 300 kilometres south of the Arctic Pole, where he is expected to meet privately with former residential students and address Inuit young people and elders.

Meeting with young people and elders in the primary school square, Iqaluit

In Iqaluit, Canada’s northernmost city, Pope Francis invites young Inuit to work within their own culture and in the “beautiful” Inuktitut language to continue to walk forward, come to the light each day, and be part of a team, with the hope that they “might embrace the Gospel preserved and handed down” by their ancestors and come to see the Inuk face of Jesus Christ.

Both events took place at Nakasuk Elementary School, one of four elementary schools in Iqaluit. Speaking privately with residential school survivors and hearing some of their stories, Pope Francis led those present in the recitation of the Our Father, before offering them his Apostolic Blessing.

Outside, in the schoolyard, the Holy Father was greeted by local leaders, and treated to an exhibition of traditional Inuit song, dance, and music, before giving his address, which was addressed to a group of Inuit young people and elders.

The Holy Father once again expressed his sorrow, and begged forgiveness, “for the evils perpetrated by not a few Catholics who contributed to the policies of cultural assimilation and [the policy of] ‘enfranchisment’” in the residential school system.

Pope Francis invited young people to embrace the past, to be passionate, and not to be afraid to listen to the counsels of their elders – and in that spirit, offered, “as an elder brother,” three pieces of advice.

First, he encouraged them to “keep walking upwards,” to aspire to great things; and he reminded them that they are the answer to the challenges of the world today. “The future is in your hands,” he told them. “Never lose hope, fight, give it your all, and you will not be sorry.”

Then he invited them to “come to the light,” by bringing light to others and working to dispel the darkness of the world. This demands discernment, the ability to distinguish between light and darkness, as well as the freedom to choose what is right.

Third, Pope Francis called they youth to “be part of team,” using the example of hockey players who are able to excel because of teamwork. “Teamwork means believing that, in order to achieve great goals, you cannot go it alone; you have to move together, to have the patience to practice and carry out complicated plays.”

Finally, Pope Francis encouraged young people to “Do all this within your own culture and in the beautiful Inuktitut language.”

“It is my hope and prayer,” he said, “that, by listening to your elders and drawing from the richness of your traditions and your personal freedom, you will embrace the Gospel preserved and handed down by your ancestors, and thus come to see the Inuk face of Jesus Christ.”

After a heartfelt blessing, the final word of the Pope’s final public address in Canada was a simple “Thank you,” fittingly expressed in Inuktitut: “Qujannamiik!”

Source and photo credit: Vatican News

Worth Sharing

Alison and Jonathan, two Indigenous dancers ready to heal, one step at a time. (S+L Media)

In gratitude…

Thank you for following the Pope’s Visit to Canada. We hope that the daily updates on these past days have provided highlights of the Holy Father’s activities in our province and country.

We express our thanks to Bishop McGrattan for his participation in the work of truth, justice, healing, and reconciliation both as the Bishop of Calgary and the Vice President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB).

We also extend our appreciation to Fr. Cristino for his role as the national liturgical coordinator for the Pope’s visit in Canada. The Seeds of the Word Community in Calgary posted beautiful photos as a tribute to Fr. Cristino who has been a significant source of support for their community. Their words echo our appreciation for all those who are involved and blessed by the Papal Visit.

We thank the Papal Visit Team and all the volunteers for all their work especially under the pressures of time and expectations. May the Lord bless them for their generous and dedicated service.

Thank you to the faithful who have been generous in their financial contributions that help cover the cost of the papal visit.

Words are not enough to express how grateful we are for your love and dedication, not only to this apostolic visit, but more importantly, to the path of reconciliation and healing. Let us continue to walk together.

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Please continue to pray for the health of Pope Francis and for all those engaged in the ongoing healing and reconciliation journey.