The dome of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican is seen from the Aventine Hill in Rome. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Vatican delegation is taking shape

  • November 17, 2021

Pope Francis will be fully involved in three days of meetings with about 30 Indigenous delegates travelling to Rome to next month in what Canada’s bishops describe as a “significant milestone” in Church reconciliation efforts.

“Representatives from the Vatican have confirmed that the Holy Father will participate in private meetings with First Nations, Inuit and Metis delegates respectively to hear their personal stories of the lasting legacy of residential schools,” the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) said in a release concerning the Dec. 17-20 meetings.

“The journey towards healing and reconciliation is a long one, but we believe this will be a significant milestone in the Catholic Church’s commitment to renewing, strengthening and reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land,” said CCCB president Bishop Raymond Poisson.

The exact make-up of the group of 25-30 residential school survivors, elders, knowledge keepers and youth who will make the trip is still being firmed up, said Neil MacCarthy, communications director for the Rome trip.

“We intend to provide additional information on who they are and what they’re hoping to achieve with the delegation in the coming weeks,” he said.

Along with the core group of 25 to 30 Indigenous delegates chosen by the Assembly of First Nations, the Métis National Council and the Inuit Tapirit Kanatami to meet with Pope Francis, a handful of other Indigenous leaders with long-standing relationships with individual bishops will be on the trip.

Staff from the three national Indigenous organizations will accompany the delegates, along with two Indigenous mental health workers supporting survivors who will speak about their experiences in residential schools and the damage it caused in their families and communities.

Which bishops will travel to Rome is being held back until the CCCB can reveal the make-up of the entire party, MacCarthy said.

Costs for the trip are being covered by the CCCB.

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