Pope Francis’s visit to Canada will go ahead despite ongoing health issues

Pope Francis will travel to Canada as planned next month, the Vatican said Thursday, confirming the long-planned trip will go ahead even though the Roman Catholic religious leader is dealing with some health issues.

The Pope, who will be in Canada from July 24 to 29 with stops in Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit, is coming here to apologize in person for the abuse suffered by Indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic Church.

According to an itinerary released by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Pope will start the visit in Edmonton with a brief ceremony at the airport. The next day, on July 25, he will meet with survivors at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in the community of Maskwacis, south of the city. Later that day, Francis is scheduled to visit Sacred Heart Church of the First Peoples, an Indigenous church in the city’s downtown core — a church that was recently restored after a devastating fire in 2020. 

On July 26, the Pope will celebrate mass at the city’s 56,000-seat Commonwealth Stadium, an event that will be open to the public. He’ll then travel to Lac Ste. Anne, Alta., a pilgrimage site where, for more than a century, First Nations and Métis Catholics have travelled to celebrate the Feast of Saint Anne.

The next stop is Quebec City, where the Pope will meet with the prime minister and the Governor General at La Citadelle and then deliver a public address. On July 28, he’ll preside over a mass at the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a national shrine, where some 10,000 to 15,000 guests are anticipated to attend. Later, he’ll participate in an evening prayer service with bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians at the Notre-Dame de Québec Basilica-Cathedral.

On July 29, the Pope will meet with a delegation of Indigenous people from Quebec before heading north to Iqaluit.

While in Nunavut, the Pope will participate in a private meeting with residential school survivors and host a delegation of young people and elders at a local primary school before heading back to Rome.

Trip to Africa cancelled

There was concern in some circles that the Pope would cancel the Canadian visit after the Vatican pulled the plug on another one of his trips abroad — a multi-day tour of Africa that was scheduled for early July.

Vatican officials said the Pope had to pull back from the planned travel to the Republic of Congo and South Sudan “at the request of his doctors” so as not to “jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee.”

Because of the ongoing health issues — the Pope has recently been seen in a wheelchair due to mobility concerns — the Canadian bishops said it is expected that the Pope’s participation in public events will be “limited to approximately one hour.”

Leave a comment

SMM Panel