Itinerary released for Pope Francis’ trip to Canada in late July

Jonah McKeown   By Jonah McKeown for CNA

 

An Inuit delegation from Canada meets Pope Francis at the Vatican, March 28, 2022. / Vatican Media.

Denver Newsroom, Jun 23, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).

The Vatican has released the itinerary for Pope Francis’ visit to Canada, during which he will meet with representatives of indigenous peoples, and with indigenous Catholics.

The visit to Canada will take place July 24-29, with a return flight to Rome landing on the 30th, the Vatican said Thursday.

While in Canada, Francis is expected to issue an apology on behalf of the Catholic Church for abuses committed against indigenous students in Catholic-run residential schools.

In addition to a visit to Edmonton, Alberta, the pope will meet with dignitaries in Quebec City before visiting Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut, to meet with residential school survivors, among others. Despite the ambitious nature of the trip, the pope is expected to participate in events in Canada for about an hour at a time, owing to the health problems the 85-year-old has experienced of late.

Francis had been scheduled to visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan July 2-7, but the trip was postponed June 10 “at the request of his doctors, and in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” a Vatican spokesman said.

As Canada is the second-largest country in the world by area, the distances involved for the whirlwind visit are vast. The map below illustrates the air routes.

After departing Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 9 a.m. local time on July 24, Pope Francis is expected to arrive in Edmonton, Alberta at 11:20 a.m. local time, and to receive an official welcome before taking the remainder of the day to rest.

The next day, July 25, the pope will meet at 10 a.m. with members of the First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples in the unincorporated community of Maskwacis, near Edmonton. This will not be the first time the pope has met with Canadian indigeous people; in March, Pope Francis met with representatives of the Métis and Inuit indigenous peoples, and with the Canadian Catholic bishops, both at the Vatican.

Then, at 4:45 pm that same day, he will meet with indigenous Catholics at Sacred Heart parish in Edmonton.

On Tuesday, July 26, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. Later that day, he will participate in a pilgrimage to Lac Ste. Anne, a site which plays host annually to thousands of pilgrims, billing itself as the largest annual Catholic gathering in Western Canada. July 26 is celebrated in the Catholic Church as the feast of St. Anne, the grandmother of Christ. The pope will also celebrate a Liturgy of the Word at the site.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis will depart Edmonton and fly to Quebec City, the capital of Quebec. He is set to be welcomed by the Governor General of Canada, and will meet with Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister. Later he will meet with civil authorities, representatives of indigenous peoples, and members of the diplomatic corps.

The next day, July 28, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. at the National Shrine of Saint Anne de Beaupré. That evening, at 5:15 am, the pope will pray Vespers with bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated persons, seminarians, and pastoral workers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

On the final day of his visit, Friday, July 29, the pope is set to have a meeting at 9 a.m. with fellow members of the Jesuit order at the archbishop’s residence. Then at 10:45, another meeting with a delegation of indigenous peoples, also at the archbishop’s residence.

Then, at 12:45, the pope will depart Quebec and fly some five hours north to Iqaluit. Home to only 7,500 people, Iqaluit is the capital — and only city — of the province of Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost and most sparsely populated territory. The area has been used as an Inuit fishing hub for thousands of years.

In Iqaluit, Pope Francis will meet at 4:45 p.m. local time with students of the former residential schools of Canada. Some 150,000 children attended residential schools in the years they operated, ending in the late 1990s. The schools were a government-led program, begun in the 1870s, to suppress the native language and cultural practices of indigenous peoples.

Many of the schools were run by Catholic institutions, and in the 1980s, former students began to reveal some of the abuses they faced in the schools, including physical, mental, and sexual abuse.

Following the meeting with the former students, the pope will meet with young people and elders in the primary school square in Iqaluit, before a 6:15 p.m. farewell ceremony sees the pope off on his return journey to Rome, where he will arrive the following day.


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