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Did Pope Francis meet Justin Trudeau before? Here’s what you need to know as the two meet today

July 27, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis meets with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Vatican on May 29, 2017. / © L’Osservatore Romano.

Denver Newsroom, Jul 27, 2022 / 16:28 pm (CNA).

Pope Francis met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this afternoon, July 27, in Quebec City, as part of his weeklong “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada. 

Today’s encounter wasn’t Pope Francis’ first meeting with Trudeau; the Prime Minister welcomed the pope when he arrived at Edmonton International Airport on Sunday. And Trudeau and Pope Francis have had one face-to-face meeting before, at the Vatican in 2017. 

In their 36-minute 2017 meeting, which the Vatican described as “cordial,” the pope gave Trudeau a medallion symbolizing forgiveness, joy, and mutual acceptance. The medallion also references Matthew 5:7: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”

During that meeting, their conversation focused on religious freedom as well as reconciliation with native people of Canada. Trudeau at that time reiterated his open invitation to the pope to come to Canada and for “reconciliation” with the indigenous communities. 

That trip to Canada has now come to fruition and has included a public apology from Pope Francis for the Catholic Church’s role in running much of Canada’s government-sponsored residential school system. During more than a century of operation, the system worked to stamp out aspects of native culture, language, and religious practice. Former students at the schools have described mistreatment and even abuse within their walls, along with broad criticisms of the quality of education they received, psychological damage, and other problems such as malnutrition and unsanitary conditions. 

The meeting between the two leaders in 2017 was not Trudeau’s first visit to the Vatican. A Catholic, he met St. John Paul II in 1980 during the meeting of his father, former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, with the pope.

Trudeau has been criticized during his tenure as prime minister for pushing policies that are at odds with his Catholic faith, including strongly pushing for the continuation of legal abortion in Canada, as well as assisted suicide.