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Pope Francis to Visit Canada in ‘Pilgrimage of Healing and Reconciliation’ Over Native Residential Schools…

Pope Francis to Visit Canada in ‘Pilgrimage of Healing and Reconciliation’ Over Native Residential Schools…

Pope Francis is already set to meet with delegations of different Indigenous tribes from Canada at the Vatican Dec. 17-20.

The papal meetings with First Nations, Métis, and Inuit delegations were scheduled following the discovery of unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and 751 unmarked graves at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in Saskatchewan.

Canada’s residential school system was set up by the Canadian federal government, beginning in the 1870s, as a means of forcibly assimilating Indigenous children and stripping them of familial and cultural ties. Catholics and members of other Christian denominations ran the schools. The last remaining federally-run residential school closed in 1996.

According to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, a Canadian body set up to investigate abuses in the schools, at least 4,100 children died from “disease or accident” at the residential schools.

One of the commission’s calls was for a formal papal apology for the Church’s role in the residential school system.

Pope Francis expressed sorrow at the discovery of Indigenous children’s graves in an Angelus address in June, but did not issue a formal apology.

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