In Quebec, Pope Francis denounces "ideological colonization" and reiterates his request for forgiveness


Pope Francis castigated the “ideological colonizations” on Wednesday in Quebec, the second stage of his visit to Canada, again asking for “pardon” before the authorities who invited him to take concrete action for reconciliation with the natives.

"Even today, ideological colonizations that oppose the reality of existence stifle the natural attachment to the values ​​of peoples, trying to uproot their traditions, history and religious ties," said the pope during a speech before the civil authorities, the native representatives and the diplomatic corps at the Citadelle of Quebec.

A few minutes earlier, the Argentinian Jesuit had been welcomed with military honors in the British fortress, located on the banks of the St. Lawrence River.

He spoke briefly with Governor General Mary Simon, who represents Queen Elizabeth II in the country and who is the first Inuk to hold this position, and then with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Along the road from the airport to the Citadel, hundreds of people, smartphones in hand, gathered behind the barriers to see the pope aboard his white Fiat. Some displayed welcome posters or flags of Argentina or the Vatican.

"Shame and pain"

In Alberta (west), the first stage of the papal trip was largely devoted to the apologies presented Monday by the pope to the natives (First Nations, Métis and Inuit) for the enlistment of 150.000 children, between the end of the 1990th century and the years 130, in XNUMX boarding schools mostly run by the Catholic Church.

Many suffered physical or sexual abuse, and thousands never recovered, victims of disease, malnutrition or neglect.

Before the authorities on Wednesday, Pope Francis again denounced the "policies of assimilation and uprooting" which have "destroyed many indigenous families", renewing his "request for forgiveness" with "shame and pain" for the actions of " many Christians. Without, however, calling into question the institution itself.

"It is our responsibility to see our differences not as an obstacle, but as an opportunity to learn, to understand each other better and to take action," said the Canadian Prime Minister.

Mary Simon then insisted on the follow-up to be given to the papal apologies, saying that she was “looking forward to knowing the actions that will be taken by the Church to continue this essential work”. The pope himself called the apology the “first step” in a “healing” process.

Faithful to his anti-arms advocacy, which he has continued to amplify since the start of the war in Ukraine, Jorge Bergoglio has also warned against "the arms race and deterrence strategies", raising the specter “frightening extended cold wars”.

He also castigated the "cancel culture" (culture of erasure), seeing in it "a cultural fashion which standardizes, makes everything equal, does not tolerate differences", to the detriment of the "most fragile: the poor, migrants, the elderly, the sick, unborn children.

Moderate attendance

On Thursday morning, the pope will preside over a mass at the Sainte-Anne de Beaupré national shrine, the oldest place of pilgrimage in North America which welcomes a million visitors each year.

Thousands of faithful are expected there, in this French-speaking province which has the largest number of Catholics in Canada, despite an attendance lower than that announced by the organizers since the beginning of the visit.

In the afternoon, the pope will deliver a homily at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Quebec, in the presence of religious representatives.

Friday, for the last leg of his six-day trip, the pope will stop for a few hours in Iqaluit (Nunavut), in the Arctic archipelago.

The 85-year-old pontiff has appeared weakened since the start of this trip, moving around in a wheelchair due to knee pain.

In a context of questioning of the Church, Francis is the second pope to visit Canada, after John-Paul II who went there three times (1984, 1987, 2002).

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

Image credit: / giulio napolitano

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Summary of news from March 23, 2023

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