“Instead, the rich multicolored foliage of the maple tree reminds us of the importance of the whole, the importance of developing human communities that are not blandly uniform, but truly open and inclusive,” he said, referencing the tree leaves holding national significance in Canada.
Throughout his speech, he repeatedly drew from the imagery of the maple leaf.
“How much we need to listen to and dialogue with one another, in order to step back from the prevailing individualism, from hasty judgments, widespread aggressiveness and the temptation to divide the world into good people and bad!” he exclaimed at one point. “The large size of the maple leaves, which absorb polluted air and in turn give out oxygen, invite us to marvel at the beauty of creation and to appreciate the wholesome values present in the indigenous cultures.”
He added: “They can inspire us all, and help to heal harmful tendencies to exploitation.”
The pope repeatedly highlighted indigenous Canadians as a model to follow in the care and protection of the family, making the world a better place for future generations, and “recalling the importance of social values.”
“The Catholic Church, with its universal dimension, its concern for the most vulnerable, its rightful service to human life at every moment of its existence, from conception to natural death, is happy to offer its specific contribution,” he added.
The past, he said, should inform the future.
“May the wrongs that were endured by the indigenous peoples serve as a warning to us today, lest concern for the family and its rights be neglected for the sake of greater productivity and individual interests,” he said.
He concluded with a message of unity.
“It is by working in common accord, hand in hand, that today’s pressing challenges must be faced,” he said. “I thank you for your hospitality, attention and respect, and with great affection I assure you that Canada and its people are truly close to my heart.”
Pope Francis’ trip continues Thursday, July 28. He will celebrate Mass at the National Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré. Later that day the pope will pray Vespers with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians, and pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.
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