During Mass in Canada, Pope Praises Indigenous reverence for elders According to Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Pope Francis receives a headdress from indigenous people during his visit to Maskwacis, Alberta, Canada July 25, 2022. REUTERS / Todd Korol
By Philip Pullella and Tim Johnson
EDMONTON, Alberta (Reuters) -Pope Francis on Tuesday praised the indigenous tradition of showing great respect for elders and learning from them, saying their memory must not be lost in ” fog of absent-mindedness” of modern society.
Pope Francis is on a week-long trip to Canada to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in running residential schools that has displaced indigenous children from their families and become a breeding ground for abuse. lan.
His words were especially poignant for Indigenous communities because residential schools, which lasted from 1870 to 1996, destroyed a very precious intergenerational link with culture. native.
He presided over Mass while sitting with a knee problem and in his homily hoped for “a future in which the history of violence and marginalization suffered by our indigenous brothers and sisters will never be repeated. “
Mass at Edmonton’s Commonwealth Stadium was held a day after the pope arrived in the town of Maskwacis, home to two old schools, and issued a historic apology calling the Church’s role in the school. education and the forcible cultural assimilation they attempted was a “deplorable evil” and a “disastrous error”. [L1N2Z61KG].
About 50,000 people attended the ceremony, which took place on the day the Roman Catholic Church marks the feast of Jesus’ grandparents. Francis, who often talks about what he learned from his grandmother Rosa in Buenos Aires, took the opportunity to repeat his frequent appeal to younger generations to love their grandparents and learn. ask from them.
Pope Francis called grandparents “a precious treasure of history greater than themselves.” He argues that modern society should be more satisfied with the gifts of the elderly, who should not be put aside simply because they cannot be as productive as before.
“In the fog of oblivion that cloud our turbulent times, it is essential to cultivate our roots, to pray and, with our forebears, to take the time to remember and preserve them. This is how a family tree grows; this is how the future is built.”
NEVER FORGET, BUT FORGET
Pope Francis entered the stadium in a popemobile, which frequently stopped as it toured the stadium so infants and children could be brought to him for kisses or blessings.
Before the Pope’s arrival, Phil Fontaine, former Head of the First National Council and a residential school survivor, reflected on Pope Francis’ visit to Maskwacis on Monday.
“I want to tell you, my friends, that what we are really talking about is forgiveness. We will never reach reconciliation without forgiveness,” Fontaine said.
“We will never forget but we must forgive. We invite the Catholic Church to rebuild the fractured relationship it has had with us, for us and for all Canadians.”
Fontaine is one of the indigenous leaders who met the pope at the Vatican earlier this year and invited him to Canada.
In the afternoon, Pope Francis will visit Lac Ste. Anne, a pilgrimage site about 70 kilometers (44 mi) west of Edmonton, is popular with both native Canadian Catholics and people of European descent.
Over 150,000 Indigenous children have been separated from their families and sent to residential schools over the years. Many people have been starved, beaten for speaking their mother tongue and sexually abused in a system that Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls a “crime of cultural genocide”.
Indigenous leaders and school survivors say that while Monday’s Pope’s apology evoked strong emotions and was an important step towards reconciliation, the Church Society and government need to do more.
“You can’t just say, ‘I’m sorry’ and walk away. It takes effort, and there has to be more meaning behind the words,” said Nakota Sioux Country Director Tony Alexis.
On Wednesday, the Pope will travel to Quebec City for a more institutional part of his visit, meeting with government officials and diplomats.
On his way back to Rome on Friday, he will stop for a few hours in Iqaluit in the Canadian Arctic, where indigenous issues will return to the fore.
The Iqaluit region is one of North America’s fastest-warming regions, and there the pope is expected to address the dangers of climate change.