Pope begins 'penitential pilgrimage' among indigenous peoples
Francis arrives in Edmonton, welcomed by representatives of the Inuit, Metis and First nations. During the flight, his thoughts turned to Grandparents' Day 'including those of consecrated life who are the wisdom of a religious family'. "I have a great desire to go to Kiev".
Edmonton (AsiaNews) - "I come among you to meet the indigenous peoples. I hope that, with God's grace, my penitential pilgrimage may contribute to the journey of reconciliation already undertaken. Please accompany me with prayer'. With these words entrusted to a tweet yesterday evening, Pope Francis began his apostolic journey to Canada, which will have at its centre a meeting with the Inuit, Metis and First Nations peoples, victims of abuses linked to assimilation policies that also involved the Catholic Church until a few decades ago.
No official speeches were scheduled upon arrival at Edmonton airport, but Francis - who got off the plane in his wheelchair after landing at 11.09 a.m. local time (7.09 p.m. in Italy) - immediately received a welcome from some representatives of the indigenous peoples, who were present to greet him along with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon.
After the brief ceremony, the Pontiff drove to St. Joseph Seminary, where he rested in preparation for today's trip to the Maskwacis area, ('hills of the bear', in the Cree language) which is home to the reserves of the tribes of Western Canada.
During the ten-hour flight from Rome to Edmonton, Pope Francis met with journalists on the plane. "Today there is no Angelus, but let's do it here," he had told them, recalling the World Day of Grandparents that on his initiative the Church celebrated yesterday all over the world.
"Young people," he had added, "must have contact with their grandparents, take up their roots, not to stay there, no, but to carry them forward, like the tree that takes strength from its roots and carries it forward in flowers and fruit. I would also like to remember, as a religious, the old men and women religious," he added, "the 'grandparents' of consecrated life: please, do not hide them, they are the wisdom of a religious family; and may the new men and women religious, the novices, the novices have contact with them: they will give us all the life experience that will help us so much to move forward".
Responding to a new question from the journalists on the possibility of a trip to Kiev as a sign of peace for Ukraine Francis finally replied: "I have a great desire to go there".