The Roman Catholic leader apologized for the church’s role in running boarding schools where Indigenous children were sexually and physically abused and where many died according to the New York Times
“With shame and unambiguously, I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the indigenous peoples,” said Francis, who arrived and left in a wheelchair due to a fractured knee.
The 85-year-old pope had promised such a tour to indigenous delegations that visited him earlier this year at the Vatican, where he made an initial apology. The head of the Catholic Church is in Canada for a 6 day Papal Visit in Canada and he is expected to depart later on Friday after traversing cities of Quebec, Alberta, Iqaluit etc
Indigenous leaders wearing eagle-feather war headdresses greeted the pope as a fellow chief and welcomed him with chanting, beating of drums, dancing and war songs.
“I am here because the first step of my penitential pilgrimage among you is that of again asking forgiveness, of telling you once more that I am deeply sorry,” he said.
In 2015, Pope Francis said his first trip to Africa was full of surprises and praised the people for having a great “sense of welcoming”. The Pontiff, who later returned to the Vatican after a seven-day trip, to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic, also said he was happy to have been to Uganda, singling out the country as being unique with the story of the Uganda Martyrs.
“Every nation of course has its own identity; Kenya is more modern, Uganda has its identity with the Martyrs and I went to both shrines – the Anglican and Catholic,” he said while fielding questions from the journalists traveling on the Papal plane.