Pope Francis’s whirlwind tour through Canada came to an end Saturday, and during the press conference aboard the papal plane he acknowledged that a genocide had been perpetrated against the Indigenous communities there.
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.
Pope Francis told reporters on his return flight from a lengthy 6-day trip to Canada that his ongoing health troubles, including osteoarthritis of the knee, could force him to slow down, at least in terms of international travel.
The planned destruction of the families, languages, cultures and traditions of the Indigenous communities of Canada through the residential school system was “genocide,” Pope Francis said.
Meeting Indigenous survivors of residential schools in Canada, Pope Francis entrusted them and the journey of truth, healing and reconciliation to three women: St. Anne, Mary and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
Pope Francis asked forgiveness Thursday for the sexual abuse of children at Church-run residential schools, vowing “never again” and building on an historic apology made the day after his arrival in Canada.
In the face of sin and failure, the temptation to wallow in despair and do nothing comes from the devil, Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis arrived in Quebec Wednesday, where he reiterated his apology to the country’s Indigenous peoples for the Catholic Church’s historic role in the “violent opposition” of their culture and condemned both new and old forms of colonization.
While presented as missionary work, the operation of residential schools by Catholics in Canada was actually an attempt to impose European culture on Canada’s Indigenous people, Pope Francis said.
Canada’s leading Catholic prelate has voiced hope Pope Francis’ visit to the country this week will strengthen efforts at reconciliation with Indigenous communities, and help “turn a page” in order to move forward together.