A mass by Pope Francis will be held in western Canada on Tuesday, a day after he issued a historic apology for the mistreatment of Indigenous children in Catholic-run schools.
Pontiff Benedict XVI is due to speak in Spanish at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium in one of the largest open-air events during his Canadian tour.
As a result of knee discomfort, the Pope has been relying on a cane or wheelchair in recent months, and he will welcome the audience from his popemobile when he visits Canada.
A long-awaited apology was delivered to Canada’s First Nations, Metis, and Inuit people in Maskwacis, a small town south of Edmonton, in his first public speech Monday.
For the evils committed against the Indigenous peoples by so many Christians, he remarked, “I humbly want pardon.”
Schools have been subjected to “cultural degradation” and maltreatment of children for nearly a century, he said.
In the late 1800s and early 1990s, the Canadian government sent over 150,000 children to 139 churches-run residential schools, where they were separated from their families, languages, and cultures.
Thousands are said to have perished from sickness, hunger, or neglect as a result of physical and sexual abuse.
Mass in Edmonton is anticipated to draw more than 60,000 people under strong security, organizers said.
Afterwards, Pope Francis is expected to continue his “penitential” journey, which he has described as such, by traveling to Lac Ste Anne, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) west of Edmonton, for a liturgical celebration at a significant pilgrimage site in North America.
Pilgrims from Canada and the United States have been coming to the healing waters since the late nineteenth century to bathe and pray, according to traditional Indigenous rites.
A major figure in many Canadian Aboriginal communities is St. Anne, who is the mother of Mary and the grandmother of Jesus in Catholicism.
After Monday’s apology, many survivors felt overwhelmed and leaders praised it as historic, even though some warned it was only a first step. ‘Path together’ was the theme of the apology.
“I think we can find a way to work together. A lot of work must be done before this can be completed “Grand Chief George Arcand of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations said this.
Canadians are reeling over the discovery of more than 1,300 unmarked graves at the sites of the former schools, which has sent shockwaves throughout the country.
There have been more than 4,000 deaths in schools, but it is thought that at least 6,000 children have died.
For centuries, the abuse had a devastating effect.
In Iqaluit, the capital of Nunavut’s northern territory and home to Canada’s biggest Inuit community, Pope Francis will meet again with former residential school pupils after his July 27-29 visit to Quebec City. He will then fly to Italy.
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