At the beginning of Pope Francis’ mass in the Canadian national shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a group of indigenous people raised a banner in front of the altar with the inscription “Rescind the doctrine “,” cancel the doctrine “. The security agents then had the banner removed, without particular resistance from the demonstrators, who left, and without moments of excessive turbulence.
With the banner “Rescind the Doctrine” (Cancel the Doctrine), first raised in front of the altar of the papal mass and then still displayed outside the Canadian National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, groups of indigenous people contest Pope Francis because, despite the apologies to the natives for the horrors in Catholic residential schools and the politics of assimilation, he has not yet repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, the edicts issued by the Church in past centuries which authorized the colonial powers to invade American and African territories and to subdue and enslave their populations.
Pope Francis, on his fifth and penultimate day of his trip to Canada, celebrated mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, 30 km from the city of Quebec, where today he celebrates mass. The Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, located in the municipality of the same name, along the Saint Lawrence River, is the oldest pilgrimage site in North America. The church, declared a National Shrine, welcomes nearly one million visitors every year. Named after Sant’Anna, the patron saint of the Canadian province, the first church was built in 1658 to house a miraculous statue of the saint, and then enlarged and renovated several times. In 1922, the building was destroyed by a fire and the construction of the current structure was started in the 1920s on a project by the Parisian architect Maxime Roisin, and officially consecrated in 1976 by Cardinal Maurice Roy. The story tells that one of the first builders of the church, in the seventeenth century, suffering from severe scoliosis, at the end of the construction works was able to heal and walk without crutches. Soon, for the native settlers and converts, the Basilica became a pilgrimage destination and a place of miraculous healings. Many visitors today commemorate this miracle by leaving a crutch on the front door. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also attended mass in the sanctuary.