Despite health problems, Pope Francis this month intends to keep his pledge to Indigenous people to visit Turtle Island ‘where I will be able better to express to you my closeness’
There was not a hint of traditional Catholic sensibility about it. Indigenous ceremonies echoed throughout St Peter’s Square as representatives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples of Canada celebrated their meeting with Pope Francis by dancing in a plethora of colours and sounds in the front yard of the ecclesiastical power that had sanctified their conquest centuries ago.
Between 28 March and 1 April their representatives had spoken for hour after hour with an attentive, compassionate, sometimes deeply moved Pope. He listened to their colonial history of abuse, cultural genocide, intergenerational trauma, social and political marginalisation and community despair.
“I have said this to you and now I am repeating it,” he told them. “Sorrow and shame: for the role that a number of Catholics, particularly those with educational responsibilities, have had in all these things that wounded you, in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown to your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values. All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”