The Pope landed this Sunday in the Canadian city of Edmonton, after a flight of ten hours and twenty minutes. The plane that took the Pontiff to Canada took off punctually this Sunday at 9:16 a.m. from Rome’s Fiumicino airport.
This is the first leg of his six-day trip across the country, where he will ask forgiveness from the Inuit, Métis and First Nations peoples for the complicity of the Catholic Church in the boarding school system for Aboriginal children.
The Pontiff was received at the airport by the highest civil authorities: Mary Simon, the first indigenous woman to hold the office of Governor General of Canada (the representative of Queen Elizabeth of England, equivalent to the head of the Canadian State); and the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
However, the official welcoming ceremony will take place next Wednesday, July 27, in Quebec. There, Pope Francis will also meet with Trudeau. In addition, there will be the usual and protocolary meeting with the Civil Authorities, and with the Diplomatic Corps, which will be joined by representatives of the indigenous populations.
According to the official agenda of the trip, no official act is planned until this Monday, July 25, when the Pontiff will meet with the indigenous populations of First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Maskwacis, a community 70 kilometers south of the city of Edmonton belonging to First Nations, the generic name with which the original populations of Canada are called.
In the afternoon, at 4:45 p.m., the Pope will go to Sacred Heart Church in Edmonton and hold a Meeting with Indigenous Peoples and Members of the Parish Community.
In any case, the Pope’s public acts will be limited in this trip to one hour because of “his advanced age” and physical “limitations”, as announced by the bishops of that country.
The Pope, who had to postpone his trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan scheduled for July 2-7 because of his knee mobility problems, thus faces his second international trip of this 2022.
He is the second pontiff to visit Canada and will make the fourth apostolic journey by a pope to the country. John Paul II toured Canada in September 1984, returned exclusively to meet with indigenous people in 1987 at Fort Simpson, and also attended WYD in Toronto in 2002, where the largest crowd in history up to that date gathered: nearly 800,000 people.