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Pope celebrates Mass in North America’s oldest Catholic shrine

#Pope #celebrates #Mass #North #Americas #oldest #Catholic #shrine

Pope Francis celebrated mass at North America’s oldest Catholic shrine on Thursday and preached reconciliation on the fourth day of his visit to Canada as he seeks to reshape the church’s relationship with indigenous peoples.

Thousands of people, many of them indigenous people, were present when the 85-year-old pope arrived at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre shrine under tight security and greeted them from his popemobile.

Inside the shrine, just in front of the altar and a few yards from Francis as the mass began, protesters unfurled a sign that read: “Revoke the Doctrine” — alluding to the Doctrine of Discovery, the papal decrees from the 15th century that gave Europeans powers to colonize non-Christian lands and people.

The writing was only on the side facing away from the pope and was calmly removed shortly afterwards.

But it was demonstrative of the work that many indigenous people, while hailing the pope’s trip as historic, say the church has work to do.

Francis came to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in abusing indigenous children in Catholic-run schools.

From the late 19th century through the 1990s, the Canadian government sent some 150,000 children to 139 Church-run boarding schools, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture by a failed policy of forced assimilation.

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

The pope apologized for the abuse as his trip began on Monday. For many indigenous people, his plea for forgiveness was overwhelming.

Desneiges Petiquay said his visit was a “message of hope”.

The 54-year-old housewife from the Manawan Reservation was in the front row in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre.

“This pope knows that we exist here, he recognizes us,” she told AFP. “Yesterday I saw him up close, it touched me here,” she added, putting her hand on her heart.

But many others say there is more work to be done. “Personally, it wasn’t enough,” said Abigail Brook, a 23-year-old member of Saint Mary First Nations, particularly regretting that the pope did not specifically mention sexual abuse.

During Mass in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from Quebec City in eastern Canada, the pope said the church was asking “burning questions… about its difficulties.” and challenging journey of healing and reconciliation.”

“In confronting the scandal of evil and the wounded body of Christ in the flesh of our indigenous brothers and sisters, we too have experienced deep dismay; we too feel the burden of failure,” he said.

“Why did all this happen? How could this happen in the community of those who follow Jesus?”

Later, the Pope will deliver a homily at Notre Dame Cathedral in Quebec City.

On Friday, the last day of his six-day trip, he will stop in Iqaluit in the Arctic Territory of Nunavut.

Francis appears to have been weak since the beginning of this journey and is confined to a wheelchair due to knee pain.

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