Visit of Pope Francis to Canada: an explainer from CNA

Has a pope ever visited Canada?

Pope Francis will be the second pope to visit Canada. Pope Saint John Paul II made trips there in 1984, 1987 and 2002, the latter being for World Youth Day in Toronto. Although Jean-Paul also visited Quebec and Edmonton during his visits, no pope has ventured as far north into Canada as Francis will have done when he lands in Iqaluit.

Another notable point: the parish of the Sacred Heart in Edmonton was designated a national parish of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit in 1991, the first of its kind in Canada.

Which indigenous groups will Pope Francis meet in Canada?

During his visit, the pope is to meet with both indigenous leaders and indigenous Catholics. The Aboriginal peoples of Canada belong to the Métis, Inuit and First Nations groups.

Francis held private meetings with Métis, Inuit and First Nations representatives in the Vatican in late March and early April, and spoke of the sadness and solidarity he expressed for the harm they suffered.

Why now? The moment

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s report was released in 2015 and demanded an apology from the pope for abuses he uncovered within a year of its release.

The pope’s ill health has hampered some of his travels and events this year, but the condition of his knee has slowly improved with rest in recent weeks.

The health of Pope Francis

The 85-year-old pope has been suffering from health issues lately and has been using a wheelchair frequently for months due to a knee injury.

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He was due to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan from July 2-7, but postponed the trip “at the request of his doctors”.

The complete itinerary of Pope Francis in Canada

Here’s a more detailed look at Pope Francis’ most recent itinerary.

He is expected to arrive in Edmonton, Alta., at 11:20 a.m. local time on July 24 and receive an official welcome before taking the rest of the day to rest.

The following day, July 25, the pope will meet at 10 a.m. with First Nations, Métis and Inuit people in the unincorporated community of Maskwacis, near Edmonton. This won’t be the first time the pope has met with Canadian Indigenous peoples; in March, Pope Francis met with representatives of the Métis and Inuit indigenous peoples, as well as the Canadian Catholic bishops, both at the Vatican.

Then, at 4:45 p.m. that same day, he will meet with native Catholics at Sacred Heart Parish in Edmonton.

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