Pope Francis has accepted an invitation from the Bishops of Canada to visit Canada for a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation with our Indigenous sisters and brothers.

The Holy Father has released a statement: press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2021/10/27/0699/01486.html.

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops today also released an accompanying statement: www.cccb.ca/media-release/canadian-bishops-to-welcome-pope-francis-to-canada-on-historic-pilgrimage-of-healing-and-reconciliation/

The papal visit will build on three years of constructive dialogue between the Canadian Bishops, the Vatican, and Indigenous Peoples who have generously shared their experiences and stories about the suffering and challenges that continue to this day. The Holy Father’s announcement is in response to the expectations expressed by the Bishops during the last meeting of the Plenary Assembly.

The Holy Father was moved by the profound desire of the Bishops of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples that he come to Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.

This process is already underway, thanks to a joint delegation to Rome that will take place 17-20 December 2021, where Pope Francis will hear directly from Indigenous Peoples on the historical and ongoing legacy of residential schools, as well as their hopes and desires for his visit to Canada.

Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith will be a part of the joint delegation.

Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops president Bishop Raymond Poisson and Winnipeg Archbishop Richard Gagnon, a former CCCB president, recently met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, to discuss next steps in the reconciliation journey.

The Holy Father was moved by the profound desire of the Bishops of Canada and the Indigenous Peoples that he come to Canada on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.

This process is already underway, thanks to a joint delegation to Rome that will take place 17-20 December 2021, where Pope Francis will hear directly from Indigenous Peoples on the historical and ongoing legacy of residential schools, as well as their hopes and desires for his visit to Canada. 

More information regarding the upcoming delegation and the upcoming papal visit to Canada will follow shortly. A date for the visit has yet to be determined, said the Oct. 27 announcement from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) following Pope Francis' acceptance of the invitation by Canada’s bishops to visit Canada “on a pilgrimage of healing and reconciliation.” 

A statement from the Vatican said that the Pope has expressed his “willingness” to visit Canada to aid in reconciliation efforts with Indigenous peoples.

“The Bishops of Canada have been engaged in meaningful discussions with Indigenous peoples, especially those affected by residential schools who have shared stories about the suffering and challenges that they continue to experience,” CCCB president Bishop Raymond Poisson said in a statement. “We pray that Pope Francis’ visit to Canada will be a significant milestone in the journey toward reconciliation and healing.”

First Nations, Metis and Inuit representatives are scheduled to meet with the Pope at the Vatican Dec. 17-20 as part of the reconciliation process in a trip organized by the CCCB.

“We will invite the delegation of Indigenous survivors, Elders, knowledge keepers and youth who will meet with Pope Francis to open their hearts to the Holy Father and share both their suffering as well as their hopes and desires for his eventual visit to Canada,” said Poisson.

Cardinal Thomas Collins welcomed the announcement of the Pope's acceptance of the bishops' invitation.

"I reiterate the unequivocal apology of the Canadian bishops from earlier this year as we sorrowfully acknowledged the historical and ongoing trauma and the legacy of suffering and challenges faced by Indigenous peoples that continue to this day," the cardinal said in a statement.

"We affirm our commitment to walk with the Indigenous people on the lengthy path of healing and dialogue. I pray that the visit of the Holy Father will provide a space for that journey to continue through authentic encounters of compassion, understanding and reconciliation."

Pope Francis will be the second pope to visit Canada. St. Pope John Paul II made three trips to Canada: a 12-day cross-Canada trip in 1984; a one-day stop in 1987 when he visited Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories; and in 2002 for World Youth Day in Toronto.