The Catholic Bishops of Canada states 25 to 30 Congenital people will join Pope Francis in December
The members are to include seniors, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors and children. A small group of Canadian ministers is also to attend from Dec. 17 to Dec. 20.
“The journey towards healing and agreement is a long one, but we believe this will be an important milestone in the Catholic Church’s duty to restoring, strengthening and reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land,” Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian ministers, said in a news release Wednesday.
First Nations, Inuit and Metis members are to have private meetings with the Pope, during which they will tell private stories about the legacy of residential schools.
The delegation’s report is how Indigenous Peoples and the Catholic Church can improve and adjust. The Canadian bishops will cover the trip costs and provide mental-health craftsmen for the trip.
“With this delegation, we wish to walk together in a new way, to accept with reserve, and to discern the next steps that the Church can take to assist residential school survivors, their families, and their neighbourhoods,” Poisson said.
An expected 150,000 Indigenous kids were forced to attend residential schools over a century. The Catholic Church rolled more than 60 per cent of the schools.
Indigenous members will also share their expectations for the Pope’s visit to Canada, the bishops said.
Last month, the Vatican stated that Pope Francis was prepared to visit, but Indigenous leaders have said it must come with an excuse.
Calls for an excuse have increased since the discovery of hundreds of unmarked tombs at former residential school sites.
Prior calls have gone unnoticed, including during a former Indigenous delegation with former pope Benedict in 2009. Then, he showed his pain and “personal distress” but never regretted it.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau individually asked the Pope in 2017 to consider an excuse.
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