08/03/2022, 23.08
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Pope: let the truth about the Port of Beirut explosion come out

During the general audience, Francis turned his thoughts to the families of the victims of Lebanon’s “unprecedented catastrophe”. He also spoke about his recent apostolic journey to Canada, which provided an opportunity for reflection, repentance, and reconciliation. IN his greetings, he urged the faithful to pray for “peace in the world, especially in Ukraine”.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis resumed his weekly general audiences this morning, the first in August, following his return from a week-long apostolic journey to Canada (24-30 July).

In his address, the pontiff expressed closeness to the people affected by the Port of Beirut explosion two years ago, almost to the day, leaving more than 220 people dead and more than 6,000 wounded.

“My thoughts go to the families of the victims of that disastrous event and to the dear Lebanese people,” the Holy Father said at the end of the audience in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican. “I pray that each one may be consoled by faith and comforted by justice and truth, which can never be hidden.

“I hope that Lebanon, with the help of the international community, may continue on the path of ‘rebirth’, remaining faithful to its vocation to be a land of peace and pluralism, where communities of different religions can live in fraternity.”

Speaking about his visit to Canada, he explained that it was a journey different from ant other, during which he expressed closeness and sorrow to the Indigenous peoples and “ask[ed] for forgiveness for the harm done to them by those Christians, including many Catholics, who in. the past collaborated in the forced assimilation and enfranchisement policies of the governments of the time.”

Francis noted that in Canada, the Church, together with indigenous peoples, is engaged in a “path of reconciliation and healing, which presupposes historical knowledge, listening to the survivors, awareness and above all conversion, a change of mentality.”

His Canadian pilgrimage was penitential in nature, marked by reflection, repentance, and reconciliation with major steps focused on remembrance, reconciliation and ultimately healing.

The first stop was in Edmonton (western Canada), followed by Quebec City (eastern Canada), ending in Iqaluit (northern Canada), 300 kilometres from the Arctic Circle.

In Masqwacis (Alberta), he met with members of indigenous groups (First Nations, Métis and Inuit). “Together we remembered: the good memory of the thousand-year history of these peoples, in harmony with their land. [. . .] And we recounted the painful memory of the abuse they suffered, also in the residential schools, as a result of cultural assimilation policies.”

The second step, that of reconciliation, will allow us “to be reconciled by Christ, who is our peace” (cf. Eph 2: 14). The third and last was on the shores of Lac Saint-Anne, because Jesus too was familiar with the lake environment.

“We can all draw from Christ, source of water, and there, in Jesus, we saw the proximity of the Father who heals wounds and also forgives sins,” Francis said. “From this journey of remembrance, reconciliation, and healing springs hope for the Church, in Canada and everywhere.”

Speaking before government officials, Indigenous leaders, and the diplomatic corps, the pope reiterated the willingness of the Holy See and local Catholic communities to promote Indigenous cultures, following appropriate spiritual paths attentive to the customs and languages of Indigenous peoples.

By the same token, the Holy Father sought to open his eyes to “the ideological colonization threatening the traditions, history and religious bonds of peoples”, urging everyone to “recover harmony between modernity and ancestral cultures, between secularization and spiritual values."

This directly challenges the Church, whose mission is to travel the world bearing witness and sowing a universal sense of brotherhood that is respectful of the local dimension while promoting its many riches.

Addressing directly the bishops of Canada, he thanked them for their unity: “where there is unity one can proceed,” he said.

Last but not least, in his meeting he listened to seniors tell their stories of abuse and missing family members. “It was a very painful moment,” he said, “but one we must face up to [it]: we must face up to our errors, our sins.”

In closing the audience, Francis greeted Polish pilgrims, noting that this month many of them will undertake their own journey to Jasna Góra and other Marian shrines.

"I ask you to offer your efforts on this journey to the Church, peace in the world, especially in Ukraine,” he said.

“I salute the Sisters of Saint Elizabeth, who are currently engaged in spiritual renewal here in Rome; many of them work in Ukraine. May the Mother of God bestow plenty of divine graces upon them and the people to whom they bring help.”

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