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Pope Francis felt the pain of Indigenous Canadians "like slaps"

Pope Francis entered the Paul VI Audience Hall with a cane instead of a wheelchair and his weekly catechesis revolved around his trip to Canada. 

The Pope explained to the pilgrims the journey of remembrance, reconciliation and healing he shared with indigenous communities. He also criticized the role the Church played in the injustices of the residential schools.

Some men and women of the Church have been among the most determined and courageous supporters of the dignity of the indigenous peoples, standing up for them and contributing to the knowledge of their languages and cultures; but, on the other hand, there has, unfortunately, been no shortage of Christians, that is, priests, religious men and women, and lay people, who have participated in programs that we understand today are unacceptable and even contrary to the Gospel. And it's for this I went to the ask for forgiveness in the name of the Church.

Pope Francis explained that his pilgrimage had three stages. The first part to Edmonton, in the western part of the country. Then to Quebec, in the eastern part. And the third part in Iqaluit, in the north of the country, just south of the Arctic Circle.

Together, we made a memories—we remembered the beauty of the thousand-year history of these peoples in harmony with their land. This is one of the most beautiful things about the indigenous people: their harmony with the land. They never mistreat creation. Never. They are in harmony with the land. And we also remembered the painful abuses suffered in residential schools due to the cultural policies of assimiliation.

Pope Francis spoke about one of the main events of the trip: the blessing of Lac Ste. Anne on the feast day of Saints Joachim and Anne. He said the lake, being a source of water, has always been a familiar place for Jesus.

He also stressed the Holy See's desire to promote indigenous cultures and to offer them spiritual accompaniment, attentive to the protection of their languages and customs. The Pope also criticized the ideological colonization that threatens people's history and their relationship with the faith.

Pope Francis also recounted his final meeting with the indigenous communities during the trip, which had a great impact on him.

I had to feel the pain of these people like slaps. Elderly people who had lost their children and don't know where they are. This happened because of this assimilation policy. It was a very painful moment. But we had to show our faces. We have to own up to our mistakes and sins.

This month, the Pope resumes his General Audiences after taking his summer break in July. However, looking back at his trip to Canada, his summer vacation was fairly busy.