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Pope holds mass in Canada after apologizing for abuse by indigenous people

#Pope #holds #mass #Canada #apologizing #abuse #indigenous #people

Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend a mass held by Pope Francis in western Canada on Tuesday, a day after his historic apology for the abuse of indigenous children in Catholic-run schools.

The 85-year-old pope is expected to deliver a sermon in Spanish at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, as part of one of the largest open-air events of his visit to Canada.

Knee pain has seen the pope use a cane or wheelchair in recent months, including in Canada, and he will greet crowds from his popemobile.

In his first address Monday to a gathering of indigenous peoples in the community of Maskwacis, south of Edmonton, he offered Canada’s First Nations, Metis and Inuit a long-awaited apology for the “evil” wrought in schools over decades of abuse.

“I’m sorry,” he said, adding, “I humbly ask for forgiveness for the evil that so many Christians have committed against indigenous peoples.”

He cited nearly a century of “cultural destruction” and “physical, verbal, psychological and spiritual abuse” of children in schools.

From the late 19th century through the 1990s, the Canadian government sent some 150,000 children to 139 Church-run boarding schools, cut off from family, language, and culture.

Many were physically and sexually abused, and thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition, or neglect.

Organizers say more than 60,000 people are expected at the Edmonton fair, which is being held amid tight security.

The spiritual leader of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics is then expected to proceed in the afternoon to a liturgical celebration at Lac Ste Anne, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Edmonton, in what he has described as a “penitent journey.” the most important places of pilgrimage in North America.

Every year since the late 19th century, thousands of pilgrims, mostly from Canada and the United States, come to bathe and pray in the healing waters according to indigenous rites.

Tuesday also marks the feast of Saint Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary and grandmother of Jesus in the Catholic tradition, an important figure for many Canadian Aboriginal communities.

– ‘Common Path’ –

Monday’s apology had a powerful impact on many, leaving survivors feeling overwhelmed and leaders hailing it as historic, though some warned it was only a first step.

“I believe there is a common path. There is still work to be done,” said George Arcand, Grand Chief of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations.

Since May 2021, more than 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered at the sites of the former schools, sending out shockwaves across Canada – which is slowly beginning to acknowledge this long, dark chapter in its history.

More than 4,000 children have been found dying in the schools, but the true number is estimated to be at least 6,000.

The abuse created trauma for generations.

After visiting Quebec City July 27-29, Pope Francis will end his trip in Iqaluit, capital of the northern territory of Nunavut and home to Canada’s largest Inuit population, where he will reconnect with former boarders before returning to Italy.

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