The Pope in Canada for the journey of forgiveness and suffering
AGI – Arrived on the shores of Lake Sant’Anna, a place of pilgrimages and healings from time immemorial, Pope Francis will turn north, south, east and west and, following a Native American tradition, will bless the four cardinal points with a sign of the cross.
Then he will do the same with the waters of the lake, in the heart of Canada of the pre-Columbian peoples, and so hopefully peace will be made: with the indigenous people, with Creation.
And the Church will be able to return to not being ashamed of its heavy past , which here means active and willing support for the inhuman assimilation practices of non-Europeans. It will be a “penitential pilgrimage”, Bergoglio himself said last Sunday.
Not an apostolic journey, note: it means that you are not going to say something, but to listen and, if anything, to speak in a humble tone. The Pope will do it, giving up the use of Italian.
In all nine interventions foreseen by the program, he will express himself in Spanish which is still the second language of the American continent. Intense days, of travel on three time zones in Canada alone, not counting the eight hours of travel that will make up the one way, from Rome to Edmonton in Alberta.
Last month the sick knee forced His Holiness to skip a tour, the African trip to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. She cared very much, which speaks volumes about the intensity of the suffering she suffered.
Now, the Holy See makes it known, the pain persists even if things are better . Just enough not to be forced to cancel this appointment as well; but it will be seen day by day, one cannot know.
And the wheelchair that has accompanied him so many times in recent weeks in Italy will probably end up in the hold, ready for use. The presence on board, possibly, of a physiotherapist is uncertain.
However, particular types of out-of-the-ordinary assistance methods are excluded, even if traveling, whether it be there or back, when you greet the journalists on board your flight, who knows if you will remain standing or prefer to sit down.
Cardinals Ouellet and Czerny , both of Canadian origins, supported him in his long trip . John Paul II was in Canada three times, the last in 2002. They were very different journeys, although still open to the question of the Natives, who represent, among other things, a not indifferent slice of the country’s Catholic community.
Their challenge is double, attacked as they are as a cultural minority and, more and more often, also as a religious minority. It goes without saying that Canada is a secular society like few others. Numerous, in Edmonton, also Canadians of Ukrainian origin: it is difficult to imagine that Bergoglio will not even have a word for them.
In recent weeks, moreover, it has increased appeals for a Ukraine battered by the “rain of missiles” of the Russians.
Program in pills : Sunday departure at 9.00, landing in Edmonton; Monday meetings with the First Nations; Tuesday mass at the Edmonton Stadium and participation in Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage with Liturgy of the Word; Wednesday meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and with the Representatives of Indigenous Peoples; Thursday in Quebec mass and vespers with bishops, priests and seminarians; Friday meeting with the peoples of Quebec; Saturday, before leaving, what will be a salient moment, the meeting with the students of the Residential Schools.
In other words: the structures where the children of the natives were taken by force, to make them by dint of violence of respectable citizens and of pure culture of European origin. The graves of many of them now litter the gardens of those institutes.
Soothe, heal, ask for forgiveness: a pilgrimage of contrition, in which the crowds will applaud, accompanying the Pope’s car transfers, beating on the drums.
But a man in pain will travel in that car, while they will see him pass and it will also be reliving the ancient offense: a suffering that is renewed. Who knows if it will be enough for catharsis, if it will be enough for forgiveness.