The pope will travel well to Quebec at the end of July despite his knee pain

Pope Francis, 85, will travel to Canada July 24-30 despite knee pain that forced him to postpone a trip to Africa, the Vatican announced Thursday.

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The pope will travel to Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, the Holy See said in a statement, a trip during which he is expected to renew his historic apology for the drama of the residential schools administered by the Church.

This confirmation comes less than two weeks after the indefinite postponement of a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, and while the pope’s health problems, forced to move around in a wheelchair, have revived speculation around a possible resignation.

Lebanon had also announced the cancellation of the pope’s visit in mid-June, citing “health problems”, but this visit had never been officially confirmed by the Vatican.

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For his 37th trip since his election in 2013, François will travel from July 24 to 26 to Edmonton (Alberta), where he will meet for the first time members of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit delegations.

He will then go to Quebec from July 27 to 29, notably to celebrate a mass at the National Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the main places of pilgrimage in North America.

On July 29, he will travel to Iqaluit, a city in the far north of Canada with the largest number of Inuit in the country, where he will meet former students of residential schools, before returning to Rome.

In early April, Francis had already offered his “apologies” during an audience at the Vatican before indigenous delegations and Canadian bishops. Confident of his “sadness and shame”, he asked “forgiveness to God for the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church”.

Between the end of the 19th century and the 1980s, some 150,000 Indigenous children were forcibly recruited into more than 130 residential schools across the country, where they were cut off from their families, language and culture.

Thousands never came back. The authorities estimate their number between 4,000 and 6,000. In 2015, a national commission of inquiry had qualified this system of “cultural genocide”.

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