Pope calls on Catholic communities to promote indigenous cultures ‘in the spirit of’ UNDRIP

Hundreds of people lined the streets from Jean-Lesage International Airport to the Plains of Abraham in the hope of catching a glimpse of Pope Francis when he arrives in Quebec City on Wednesday.

This is the fourth day of his visit to Canada, which he describes as a pilgrimage of healing, reconciliation and hope.

After meeting with Governor General Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he delivered a public address at the Citadelle, the fortress overlooking the plains and the St. Lawrence River and bordering the old town.

In it, he expressed feelings of “profound shame and grief” as he had two days before residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alberta, and reiterated a plea for forgiveness “for the wrong done by so many from Christians to indigenous peoples.

“I am thinking above all of the policies of assimilation and emancipation, also involving the residential school system, which have harmed many indigenous families by undermining their language, their culture and their worldview,” he said. .

“In this deplorable system, promoted by the government authorities of the time, which separated many children from their families, different local Catholic institutions had their share.”

Ceremony delayed

The papal plane landed shortly before 3 p.m. ET. A small group of Quebec and Indigenous leaders, along with residential school survivors, greeted him before he was transported in a procession to the Citadel where a welcome ceremony was held. A charter flight with guests and media leaving the Edmonton airport was delayed, pushing the official ceremony back an hour.

Pope Francis is greeted by Raymond Gros-Louis of the Huron-Wendat Nation, right, at the Citadelle in Quebec on Wednesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

In speeches at the Citadelle, Simon and Trudeau reflected on the events of the week.

“You have recognized the abuses suffered in residential schools that resulted in cultural destruction, loss of life, and the ongoing trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples in every region of this country,” Trudeau said.

“As Your Holiness said, asking for forgiveness is not the end of the matter, it is a starting point, a first step.”

Simon said it was “our collective duty” to remember what happened at residential schools, “to tell the stories of survivors and those who never returned home, and to support and take care of those who did.

“Support in terms of mental health resources. Helping families uncover the true fate of those who never returned home. And caring for the indigenous people who need the time and space to understand what this visit means to them and what the next steps should be.”

Support for UNDRIP

In his address, the Pope said that local Catholic communities are committed to promoting indigenous cultures, customs, languages ​​and educational processes “in the spirit of” the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples ( UNDRIP).

Pope calls on Catholic communities to promote indigenous cultures in
Pope Francis, Governor General Mary Simon, left, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, right, arrive at the Citadelle in Quebec on Wednesday. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

In its 94 Calls to Action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on all ecclesiastical parties to the residential school settlement “to formally adopt and uphold the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” as a framework for reconciliation”, including “respect for the right of indigenous peoples to self-determination in spiritual matters”.

Nodding to the Haudenosaunee Seven Generation Principle, which teaches that decisions made today should impact the next seven generations, the pope said, “We must be able to look, as the indigenous wisdom, seven generations to come, and not of our immediate convenience, in the next election, or the support of this or that lobby,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of protecting the environment, family, multiculturalism and accepting Ukrainian and Afghan migrants.

“Indigenous people have a lot to teach us about family care and protection,” he said.

“May the wrongs endured by Indigenous peoples serve as a warning to us today, lest concern for the family and its rights be neglected in favor of greater productivity and individual interests.

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