(PresidentialWire.com)- Despite suffering from a bad knee that has made it difficult to walk, the Vatican confirmed last week that Pope Francis will be moving ahead with his plan to visit Canada this summer so he can apologize in person to the Indigenous peoples who suffered abuses at the hands of the Catholic Church.
The Vatican announced on Friday that the pope will travel to Canada on July 24 and visit Edmonton, Quebec, and the small town of Iqaluit where half the population is Inuit. He will then return to Rome on July 30.
In April, the pope issued an apology for abuses committed in Canada’s church-run residential schools and said he would travel to Canada to deliver the apology in person to the survivors of misguided Catholic missionary zeal.
According to Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni, the pope accepted an invitation from “the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and the Indigenous communities” for an “apostolic journey” to Canada.
The specifics of the pope’s Canadian trip are expected to be made public in the upcoming weeks. Bishops in Canada have said Francis is expected to visit the site of one former residential school and visit “other locations of particular significance.”
However, given the pope’s current health problems, the scope of the trip will be limited both in geography and duration. But the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a statement that the locations were selected to give the pope an “opportunity for both intimate and public encounters.”
In recent public appearances, the 85-year-old Pope Francis has been seen in a wheelchair due to what the Vatican said was a severely strained ligament in his knee.
Before leaving for Canada, the pope is scheduled to travel to Congo and South Sudan in early July. The planned June visit to Lebanon, however, has been canceled.
In early April, the pope voiced “sorrow and shame” for the abuses of Indigenous identities, culture, and spiritual values within the residential school system during a private meeting with Indigenous representatives. During the meeting, Inuit delegates had invited the pope to visit northern Canada.