Members of the press gather in St. Peter's Square to cover the meetings of Canada's indigenous representatives with Pope Francis. Photo by Michael Swan

Indigenous delegation makes headlines worldwide

  • March 29, 2022

The unprecedented meetings this week between Pope Francis and three Canadian delegations of Indigenous people in Rome are big news. Thirteen camera crews and dozens of journalists — Italian, American, British and Canadian — greeted Metis National Council president Cassidy Caron after the MNC delegation of nine came out to St. Peter’s Square after their hour-long encounter with the bishop of Rome.

Canadian journalists are here in force. Communications co-ordinator for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops reports about 75 have made the trip to Rome.

The Metis and Inuit meetings with Pope Francis on Monday generated headlines around the world.

The English Guardian story is headlined “Pope meets Canada Indigenous groups seeking apology for abuse of children.” The mostly online descendent of the Manchester Guardian explains to readers that the meetings are about a “scandal that has rocked the Catholic Church.”

Al Jazeera headlines its story with “Indigenous delegates hold first talks with Pope Francis in Rome” and refers to the meetings as “historic discussions.”

RAI, Italy’s biggest TV television network, reported on the first meetings with Pope Francis under the title “Gli indigeni canadesi a Roma per chiedere giustizia al Papa” or “Indigenous Canadians in Rome to ask the Pope for justice.” The Pope is engaged in the difficult but essential work of listening and understanding, RAI’s Vatican reporter explains.

The Associated Press story by Nicole Winfield tells American readers the Indigenous delegations have come to Rome with “long-standing demands that gained traction last year after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves outside some of the schools.”

Avvenir, the Italian daily owned by the country’s bishops, headlines its story with “Abusi. Il Papa incontra gli indigeni del Canada: «Un percorso di verità e giustizia” or “Abuses. The Pope meets the Natives of Canada: ‘A path of truth and justice.’ ” The story by Mimmo Muolo quotes Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni explaining the meetings were “characterized, on the part of the Pope, by the desire to listen and make room for the painful stories brought by the survivors."

Two successive press conferences with Metis and Inuit delegates and bishops yesterday were held in a packed hotel meeting room with TV cameras fighting for space and photographers on their knees at the front of the room.

The Pope will meet with 13 First Nations delegates on Thursday and a final audience with all three delegations and the Canadian bishops follows on Friday.

More headlines to come.

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