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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis plans visit to Canada to apologize to indigenous communities

The Vatican has confirmed that Pope Francis will visit Canada, where he will address a delicate matter: the reconciliation between the Catholic Church and indigenous communities in light of the so-called residential schools.

From the mid-19th century through the 1970s, the government forced more than 150,000 native Canadian children to leave there homes and attend residential schools. The goal was for them to abandon their cultural roots and assimilate into Western culture.

About 46 percent of those schools were run by Catholic dioceses and institutions. The rest by other Christian Churches.

At least 4,200 children died in those schools, mostly from tuberculosis. They were buried in mass graves, and their families were never notified.

In 1991, a number of bishops began publicly apologizing on behalf of the Church for the abuse and neglect committed.

But more recent discoveries of new mass graves have caught people's attention. Many are calling the Church to be more actively involved in the reconciliation process.

In 2017, when the Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, traveled to the Vatican, he asked the Pope to apologize for the Church's role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse of indigenous minors.

At the time, Pope Francis said he could not visit Canada.

Months later, he invited an indigenous group to visit Rome this coming December.

But now, at the Canadian bishops' request, the Pope has decided to take another step and visit Canada in the coming months.