“Please join us in praying for all those who attended residential schools and all who continue to suffer because of the legacy of the schools, as well as for all those who are working for truth, understanding, and healing. We also pray for the health of Pope Francis as he makes this pilgrimage to this land.” – Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan
By Kiply Lukan Yaworski, Catholic Saskatoon News
The Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan are among those welcoming news of Pope Francis’ visit to Canada July 24-29, which is a follow-up to the visit by an Indigenous delegation to Rome in late March and the apology that the pope made to Indigenous Peoples April 1.
In a letter addressed to the faithful and to the citizens of the province, the five Catholic leaders said the papal visit is “an important step for many in the ongoing journey of truth and reconciliation.”
Although there were invitations for the Holy Father to visit many locations – including Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, the Vatican has announced that the visit will be to three communities: Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit.
“We acknowledge and share in the disappointment that Saskatchewan is not included in the destinations that Pope Francis will visit,” wrote the Saskatchewan bishops.
“Many Indigenous leaders and Survivors have worked long and hard to encourage a visit to our province, and we are grateful for your efforts, which we have sought to support. But we also understand the many invitations he received, the discussions with Indigenous representatives during the Vatican visit … and the limitations imposed by Pope Francis’s health.”
The Saskatchewan bishops pledged to continue to work closely with Indigenous communities, Residential School Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers and leaders “to take the steps which would allow Pope Francis’s visit to bring as much healing as possible to the First Nations and Métis Peoples of our province.”
Discernment is underway about how to invite the greatest possible participation from Indigenous Peoples of the region, noted the bishops.
“Our prayer is that with the proximity to Edmonton, many may be able to be present at the encounter there; and that with the help of technology, through prayer and acts of solidarity, residential school survivors, their families and communities, and all of our society will experience healing and hope through this papal visit.”
“Specific programming and events will be confirmed approximately six weeks prior to the Holy Father’s arrival,” they noted. Visit www.papalvisit.ca (English) or www.visitepapaple.ca (French) for more information and to stay updated on the latest developments.
“Please join us in praying for all those who attended residential schools and all who continue to suffer because of the legacy of the schools, as well as for all those who are working for truth, understanding, and healing. We also pray for the health of Pope Francis as he makes this pilgrimage to this land.”
The message is signed by Archbishop Donald Bolen of Regina, Archbishop Murray Chatlain of Keewatin-Le Pas, Bishop Mark Hagemoen of Saskatoon, Bishop Stephen Hero of Prince Albert, and Archbishop Lawrence Huculak, OSBM, Apostolic Administrator of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon.
Related: Pope Francis coming to Canada
Related: Text of Papal Apology