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Pope begins "penance" trip in Canada for abusing native people

Image: Reuters Berita 24 English - Pope Francis arrived in Canada on Sunday to begin a week-long visit that will be focused on issuing the ...

Image: Reuters

Berita 24 English - Pope Francis arrived in Canada on Sunday to begin a week-long visit that will be focused on issuing the Roman Catholic Church's official apologies for the abuse that indigenous children suffered at residential schools that were mostly run by the church.

"This is a journey of atonement. Say that's the spirit of it "After his flight departed from Rome, the pope spoke to reporters.

The papal aircraft landed in Edmonton, Alberta's westernmost province, where he will meet with indigenous peoples and tour a former residential school on Monday. In addition, he is in Quebec City and Iqaluit, the Nunavut territory's capital. Friday will see his departure.

More than 150,000 native children were taken away from their families and sent to residential schools between 1881 and 1996. In a system that Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission referred to as "cultural genocide," many children were malnourished, physically assaulted, and sexually molested.

Vatican and Canadian flags were flying outside the cockpit windows as the papal aircraft taxied. The pope entered a white Fiat 500X after disembarking with the use of a lift, which dropped him off at the hangar. He then rolled forward in a wheelchair.

First to meet the pope was Governor General Mary Simon, who stands in for Canada's monarch, Queen Elizabeth. Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, came next.

The pope stood between the two Canadian officials during a brief performance by four drummers and native singers before greeting and exchanging gifts with many indigenous chiefs, several of whom were decked out in ornate headdresses.

Grand Chief George Arcand of the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations stated in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, "I asked today for the pope to walk with us. It was incredibly humbling to speak with your holiness.

In addition to greeting the pope, RoseAnne Archibald, national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, attacked the "unilateral" planning of the trip and the "archaic" character of the church, which has no female officials.

She told reporters at the airport, "We don't feel that it has been about survivors" of residential schools. "It has primarily been about the church generating money for the church and promoting the church's philosophy."

After the brief service, the pope departed in a wheelchair to have a brief private conversation with Trudeau and other officials before making his way to St. Joseph Seminary, where he will likely rest until Monday's celebrations.

Early in July, the 85-year-old pope postponed a trip to the DRC and South Sudan due to a knee issue that has recently required him to use a wheelchair and a cane.

The pope previously expressed his desire to visit Ukraine while on board the papal aircraft as part of his efforts to try and put an end to the five-month-old war, which he has frequently denounced.

When questioned about a potential future trip to Ukraine, the pope responded, "I have a great desire to go to Kyiv.

The pope expressed his desire to visit Moscow and Kyiv soon after his trip to Canada in an exclusive interview with Reuters earlier this month.

The discovery of possible unmarked graves at or close to former residential school sites last year brought the matter to light, even though Canada's officials had known about the high number of children dying at the residential schools since 1907.

The pope apologised for the Catholic church's involvement in the schools earlier this year during a visit by indigenous representatives to the Vatican in response to pressure brought on by those revelations.

He is currently getting ready to make amends in Canada. However, Reuters has been told by survivors and indigenous leaders that they want more.

Many have demanded monetary restitution, the repatriation of indigenous artefacts, the disclosure of school records, support for the extradition of an alleged abuser, and the repeal of a 15th-century ideology that utilised a papal bull, or edict, to justify the colonial displacement of indigenous people.

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