Pope Francis says he felt the pain of Indigenous Peoples during trip to Canada

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Pope Francis says he felt the pain of Indigenous Peoples during his trip to Canada but also left with a sense of hope.

The six-day journey saw Francis meet with Indigenous people and residential school survivors during stops in Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut last week.

"In these meetings, especially the last one, I had to feel the blows of the pain of those people, what they had lost … the elderly who had (lost) their children and did not know what had become of them, due to this policy of assimilation," Francis said Wednesday during a general audience in Vatican City.

"It was a very painful moment, but one we must face up to. We must face up to our errors, our sins."

Throughout the trip. the Pope apologized multiple times for the role of some members of the Roman Catholic Church in the schools. He also begged for forgiveness for cultural destruction and forced assimilation.

On his flight back to Rome, Francis said the abuses Indigenous Peoples faced amounted to genocide.

An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada, where neglect and physical and sexual abuse were rampant. More than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.

The Pope said there were many joyful moments throughout his travels and thanked Canadians for their warm welcome and great hospitality.

But the overall meaning and tone was reflection, repentance and reconciliation, he said.

Francis said the fortitude of Indigenous Peoples can be an example to all people "not to close themselves up."

"But to offer their indispensable contribution for a more fraternal humanity, that knows how to love creation and the creator, in harmony with creation."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 3, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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