Pope Francis will travel to Canada as planned next month, the Vatican announced Thursday, confirming that the long-planned trip will continue even as the Catholic religious leader struggles with health issues.
The Pope, who will be in Canada July 24-29 with stops in Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, is coming here to apologize in person for the abuses suffered by Indigenous peoples at the hands of the Catholic Church.
According to an itinerary released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the pope will begin his visit to Edmonton with a brief ceremony at the airport. The next day, July 25, he will meet with survivors at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis, south of the city. Later in the day, Francis is due to visit the Church of the Sacred Heart of the First Peoples, an aboriginal church in the city’s downtown – a church that was recently restored after a devastating fire in 2020.
On July 26, the Pope will celebrate Mass at the city’s 56,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium, an event that will be open to the public. He will then go to Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., a place of pilgrimage where, for more than a century, First Nations and Métis Catholics have traveled to celebrate the feast of Saint Anne.
The next stop is Quebec City, where the pope will meet with the prime minister and governor general at La Citadelle and then deliver a public address. On July 28, he will preside over a mass at the Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré basilica, a national sanctuary, where some 10,000 to 15,000 guests are expected. Later, he will participate in an evening prayer service with bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians at the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Québec.
On July 29, the pope will meet with a delegation of Indigenous people from Quebec before heading north to Iqaluit.
While in Nunavut, the pope will participate in a private meeting with residential school survivors and host a delegation of youth and elders at a local elementary school before returning to Rome.
Trip to Africa canceled
There were fears in some circles that the pope would cancel the Canada visit after the Vatican ended another of its foreign trips – a multi-day tour of Africa scheduled for early July.
Vatican officials say Pope must forgo planned trip to Republic of Congo and South Sudan ‘at the request of his doctors’ so as not to ‘jeopardize results of therapy he is undergoing for his knee’ .
Due to ongoing health issues – the pope was recently seen in a wheelchair due to mobility issues – the Canadian bishops say it is expected that the pope’s attendance at public events will be ‘limited to approximately one hour’ .