International News

At Audience, Pope Reflects on ‘Penitential Pilgrimage’ to Canada

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican Aug. 3, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The remembrance, reconciliation and healing from the Catholic Church’s past sins committed against Indigenous populations is a reminder that Christians can find hope amid their sins and failures, Pope Francis said.

Returning for the first general audience Aug. 3 following a monthlong summer break, the pope reflected on his recent visit to Canada, which he said was “unlike the other journeys” he has made.

The main reason for his visit, he said, “was to meet the Indigenous peoples to express to them my closeness and my sorrow, and to ask for forgiveness for the harm done to them by those Christians, including many Catholics, who in the past collaborated in the forced assimilation and deracination policies of the governments of the time.

” Recalling the motto of the July 24-29 visit, “Walking Together,” the pope said it signified the “path of reconciliation and healing, which presupposes historical knowledge, listening to the survivors, awareness and above all conversion, a change of mentality” in the church.

While there were some men and women in the church who were “decisive and courageous supporters of the dignity of the Indigenous peoples,” the pope said that, sadly, there was “no shortage of those who participated in programs that today we understand are unacceptable and contrary to the Gospel.”