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Pope Francis Blesses the Water and Pilgrims at the Famous Pilgrimage Site of Lac Ste. Anne in Canada…

Pope Francis speaks in the Shrine of Ste. Anne on July 26, 2022. Vatican Media
Pope Francis speaks in the Shrine of Ste. Anne on July 26, 2022. Vatican Media

Commenting on the lake’s reputation for its healing waters, the pope called on Christ’s healing power. “This evening, let us picture ourselves around the lake with Jesus, as he draws near, bends down and with patience, compassion and tenderness, heals many who are sick in body or spirit: the possessed, the paralyzed, the blind and lepers, but also the broken-hearted and discouraged, the lost and hurting. Jesus came then, and he still comes now, to care for us, and to console and heal our lonely and wearied human family.”

“The crowds at the Sea of Galilee who thronged around Jesus were made up for the most part of ordinary, simple people, who brought to him their own needs and hurts. If we want to care for and heal the life of our communities, we need to start with the poor and most marginalized. Too often, we allow ourselves to be guided by the interests of a few who are comfortable. We need to look more to the peripheries and listen to the cry of the least of our brothers and sisters.”

A major theme of the pope’s “penitential pilgrimage” has been reconciliation. On Monday, Pope Francis publicly apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in running much of Canada’s government-sponsored residential school system, which worked to stamp out aspects of native culture and language, and in which many former students have alleged abuse and mistreatment. 

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“Part of the painful legacy we are now confronting stems from the fact that indigenous grandmothers were prevented from passing on the faith in their own language and culture,” he said Tuesday. 

“That loss was certainly tragic, but your presence here is a testimony of resilience and a fresh start, of pilgrimage towards healing, of a heart open to God who heals the life of communities. All of us, as Church, now need healing: healing from the temptation of closing in on ourselves, of defending the institution rather than seeking the truth, of preferring worldly power to serving the Gospel.”

Pope Francis encouraged those in attendance to reach out with love to others, and to accompany them in their need, so that ​​“streams of living water might flow” from their hearts. 

“Dear indigenous brothers and sisters, I have come here as a pilgrim also to say to you how precious you are to me and to the Church,” he concluded his speech. 

“I want the Church to be intertwined with you, as tightly woven as the threads of the colored bands that many of you wear. May the Lord help us to move forward in the healing process, towards an ever more healthy and renewed future. I believe that this is also the wish of your grandmothers and your grandfathers. May the grandparents of Jesus, Saints Joachim and Anne, bless us on our journey.”

On Wednesday, Pope Francis will depart Edmonton and fly to Quebec City, the capital of Quebec. He is set to be welcomed by the Governor General of Canada, and will meet with Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister. Later he will meet with civil authorities, representatives of indigenous peoples, and members of the diplomatic corps.

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