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The Pope flies to Canada, ‘the trip helps reconciliation with the natives’

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West Bank, the funeral of Palestinian militiamen killed by the Israeli army (ANSA)

“Dear brothers and sisters of #Canada, I am coming among you to meet indigenous peoples. I hope that, with the grace of God, my penitential pilgrimage can contribute to the path of reconciliation already undertaken. Please accompany me with the #prayer. “Pope Francis affirms this in a tweet at the start of his trip to Canada.

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Bergoglio’s is the 37th international trip of his pontificate, which leads to 56 countries he has visited. And it is the fourth trip of a pontiff to Canada, after Wojtyla’s three, in 1984, 1987 and 2002.

The leaders of the First Nations indigenous communities, on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in Canada, said it loud and clear: “It is an important historical moment for the survivors of the residential school system and the damage caused by the Catholic Church. everyone affected by this system, directly or indirectly. These apologies recognize what we have lived and create an opportunity for the Church to repair relations with indigenous peoples around the world. But it does not end there: there is a lot to do. just a start “. The words of the Grand Chief George Arcand Jr., distributed to the press by the Canadian Bishops’ Conference, show how laborious and difficult the path of “healing and reconciliation” is still after the horrors of the “residential school” system, also supported in large part by the Catholic Church, in the government program for the assimilation of aboriginal peoples.

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It is estimated that, starting from 1883 until the 1960s – but the last school was closed only in 1996 – about 150,000 First Nations, Métis and Inuit children were forced to attend one of the 139 schools distributed. throughout the country, breaking the bond with their families, with their language and culture to be transformed into little Christians. Among abuses of all kinds – including sexual ones -, imprisonment and beatings for punitive-intimidating purposes, due to disease, hunger, cold, at least 4,000 of these children have died.

The “penitential pilgrimage” Pope Francis among the Canadian native communities who begins today, after the meetings in Rome between March and April and the Pontiff’s attestations of “indignation” and “shame”, wants to testify precisely in the places of pain the repentance of the Catholic authorities respect to the abuses of the past and leave behind once and for all the ideology of the colonialist Church.

And despite the difficulties that emerge, and despite the serious walking problems, the 85 / year old Francesco faces this demanding journey, also made up of great distances, with strong determination. “It is certainly impossible to respond to all the invitations and visit all the places, but the Holy Father is certainly motivated by the desire to show concrete closeness – Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin assures Vatican News -. Here, I would say that proximity is, in this case too, the key word: the Pope does not intend only to say words, but above all to come close, to show his closeness in a concrete way. Therefore he sets out on a journey to touch the sufferings of those peoples with his hands, pray with them and become a pilgrim among them “.

Source: Ansa

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