Pope Francis attends a welcoming ceremony with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mary Simon, governor general of Quebec, at Citadelle de Quebec, the residence of the governor general in Quebec City, July 27, 2022. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Canada a model of peace, Pope Francis tells Quebec audience

By 
  • July 28, 2022
Michael Swan

Michael Swan
The Catholic Register

The Catholic Register was on scene with Pope Francis during his 'penitential pilgrimage' across Canada. See Michael's full reporting of the pope's historical visit.

Pope Francis has arrived in Quebec with the same message he has tried to share with Indigenous Canadians in the West — that Christ wants to be incarnate in every culture, in Indigenous cultures, Quebecois culture, Canadian culture.

“The rich multicoloured foliage of the maple tree reminds us of the importance of the whole, the importance of developing human communities that are not blandly uniform, but truly open and inclusive,” Pope Francis told Quebec and Indigenous leaders after landing in Quebec City July 27.

Pope Francis raised up Canadian multiculturalism as a model for more peaceful and successful societies.

“Multiculturalism is fundamental for the cohesiveness of a society as diverse as the dappled colours of the foliage of the maple trees,” he said. “Multiculturalism is a permanent challenge: it involves accepting and embracing all the different elements present, while at the same time respecting their diverse traditions and cultures, and never thinking that the process is complete.”

Governor General Mary Simon, the first Indigenous person to serve in the role, thanked Canadians for their heartfelt response to what they have learned about residential schools and the history of colonization in the last year. She also praised Pope Francis for his pilgrimage of penance to Canada.

“I have great hope in what I have seen thus far on this visit,” she said.

In his remarks Prime Minister Justin Trudeau praised Pope Francis for his willingness to help Canada confront the history of residential schools.

“Your Holiness, in our previous conversations, from the first time we spoke about this,  you always offered your time, genuinely seeking to understand, to do right and to atone,” Trudeau said. “This week,  you recognized the abuses experienced at residential schools that resulted in cultural destruction, loss of life and the ongoing traumas lived by Indigenous peoples in every region of this country.”

Pope Francis praised the Canadian Church for playing a role in society by serving the poor.

“In these days, I have heard about the many needy persons who come knocking on the doors of the parishes. Even in a country as developed and prosperous as Canada, which pays great attention to social assistance, there are many homeless persons who turn to churches and food banks to receive essential help in meeting their needs, which, lest we forget, are not only material,” he said.

For the Pope, such service to the poor is an entry point to reconciliation.

“Precisely among the Native peoples we often find many indices of poverty, along with other negative indicators, such as the low percentage of schooling, and less than easy access to owning a home and to health care,” he said. “May the emblem of the maple leaf, which regularly appears on the labels of the country’s products, serve as an incentive to everyone to make economic and social decisions that foster participation and care for those in need.”

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