Pope Francis blesses faithful during the Angelus noon prayer he delivers from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Pope Francis blesses faithful during the Angelus noon prayer he delivers from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Vatican says Pope Francis willing to visit Canada as Indigenous leaders seek apology

Calls for an appology have grown louder over the past year

The Vatican says Pope Francis is willing to visit Canada, as Indigenous leaders call on him apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

The Vatican says in a statement that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops invited Francis to travel to Canada, and that he indicated his “willingness” to do so at an undetermined date.

The development comes ahead of a trip to the Vatican that First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders plan to take in December to meet with the Pope in hopes of securing an apology.

The 2015 final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which chronicled the abuses suffered by Indigenous children at federally funded church-run residential schools, calls for a papal apology to be delivered in Canada.

Those calls have grown louder over the past year after the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at former residential school sites by First Nations in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Criticism has also intensified as concerns have been raised that the Catholic Church didn’t properly compensate residential school survivors as agreed to under a landmark settlement.

-With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2021.

Pope Francis