July 2022: Pope Francis apologizes to Indigenous communities in Canada

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In July, Pope Francis typically reduces his schedule to rest for the summer, but this year he found ways to stay busy. 

At the start of the month he celebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the Congolese community in Rome after postponing his trip to the country due to knee pain. There, he asked each attendee to advocate for peace in their war-torn home country. 

Brother, sister, peace begins with us. With me, with you, you, and you, with each one of us.

Amidst speculation that the Pope was planning to resign due to mobility issues, Pope Francis told Reuters that the thought of resignation never entered his mind. 

Days later, the Pope made history by appointing three women to the Vatican body that oversees the appointment of the world's bishops. 

That same month, the Holy See issued a rare show of force in a communiqué to the German bishops' conference, warning them against developing new doctrines that could threaten the unity of the Church. 

Pope Francis then prepared for what he called a “penitential pilgrimage” to Canada to meet with Indegenous communities and apologize for the Church's role in operating oppressive and abusive residential schools. 

After the ten hour flight, the Pope was welcomed to Canada by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Indigenous leaders, and a group of traditional Indigenous drummers. 

The next day, the Pope prayed in a cemetery near a former residential school that included unmarked graves of children who died there. 

He later met with various Indigenous communities to deliver the words they had been waiting to hear on their territories.

I am deeply sorry. Sorry for the ways in which, regrettably, many Christians supported the colonizing mentality of the powers that oppressed the indigenous peoples.

In Quebec, Pope Francis met with Canada's political leaders, including Prime Minister Trudeau and Quebec's governor general, Mary May Simon, the first indigenous person elected to her role. There, he reflected on the short-term interests that threaten Indigenous values such as family and respect for nature. 

May the evil suffered by the indigenous peoples, and which we are ashamed of today, serve as a warning to us.

The Pope then ended his trip with a private meeting with Indigenous persons, to whom he said the process of healing does not end with an apology, but continued efforts by both the Church and Indigenous communities for reconciliation.

Asked about his knee pain on the return flight to Rome, Pope Francis said that he would need to turn down the pace of his future trips and limit himself due to his age.


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