Hundreds of people lined the streets from Jean Lesage International Airport to the Plains of Abraham hoping to get a glimpse of Pope Francis as he arrived in Quebec City Wednesday.
It marks the fourth day of his visit to Canada, which he is calling a pilgrimage of healing, reconciliation and hope.
After meeting with Gov. Gen. Mary Simon and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he made a public address at the Citadelle, the fortress overlooking the plains and St. Lawrence River and bordering the old city.
In it, he expressed feelings of “deep shame and sorrow” as he did two days prior to residential school survivors in Maskwacis, Alta., and reiterated a request for forgiveness “for the wrong done by so many Christians to the Indigenous peoples.”
“I think above all of the policies of assimilation and enfranchisement, also involving the residential school system, which harmed many Indigenous families by undermining their language, culture and worldview,” he said.
“In that deplorable system, promoted by the governmental authorities of the time, which separated many children from their families, different local Catholic institutions had a part.”
The papal plane landed shortly before 3 p.m. ET. A small party of Quebec and Indigenous leaders, as well as residential school survivors greeted him before he was transported by motorcade to the Citadelle where a welcome ceremony was held. A chartered flight with guests and media leaving the Edmonton airport was delayed, pushing the official ceremony back by an hour.
Support of UNDRIP
In his address, the Pope said 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).
In its 94 calls to action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on all the church parties to the residential schools settlement “to formally adopt and comply with the principles, norms and standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as a framework for reconciliation” including “respecting Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination in spiritual matters.”
Giving a nod to the Haudenosaunee seven generations principle, which teaches that decisions made today should impact the next seven generations, the Pope said, “We need to be able to look, as the Indigenous wisdom tradition teaches, seven generations ahead, and not to our immediate convenience, to the…