The 85-year-old, who will travel to the cities of Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, apologized last month to indigenous delegations who visited him at the Vatican for a scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.
Numerous investigations are being carried out into the former residential schools after the discovery of unmarked mass graves, with over 4,000 children believed to be missing.
More details about the July 24-30 visit will be released in the coming weeks, the Vatican said.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday that “a formal in-person apology” from the head of the Roman Catholic Church to survivors and their families would be an important step “in promoting meaningful reconciliation for indigenous peoples in our country.” .
The Canadian Bishops’ Conference said Friday that choosing three communities to visit would limit travel for the aging pope, while “still allowing intimate and public encounters” with people from all regions of the country.
Edmonton is home to the second largest number of indigenous peoples living in Canadian urban centers, and some 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada, he said.
Quebec is home to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America.
Iqaluit, on the vast Baffin Island, is the capital of the Nunavut Territory, home to many native Inuit.
It is also an area in the arctic region of the country where climate change, a priority for the pope, is taking effect three times faster than the global average.
The pope’s trip will coincide with the feast of Saint Anne in Canada on July 26, dedicated to the maternal grandmother of Jesus.
Bishop Raymond Poisson said Canada‘s bishops were “immensely grateful” for the pope’s visit to “continue the journey of healing and reconciliation.”
Francis is expected to repeat his apologies to survivors of school abuse and family members of the victims.
Some 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were enrolled from the late 19th century to the 1990s in 139 residential schools across Canada, as part of a government policy of forced assimilation.
They spent months or years isolated from their families, language, and culture, and many were physically and sexually abused by principals and teachers.
In April, Francis criticized the “ideological colonization” of which “so many children have been victims.”
“Their identity and culture have been wounded, many families have been separated,” he said.
Thousands are believed to have died from disease, malnutrition or neglect. More than 1,300 unmarked graves have been discovered since May 2021 in schools.
A truth and reconciliation commission concluded in 2015 that the government’s failed policy amounted to “cultural genocide.”
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