Pope Francis plans to visit Canada this summer to apologise for the abuse suffered by Indigenous people at the hands of the Catholic church – despite struggling with a bad knee.
Francis will head to Canada on July 24, returning to Rome on July 30, the Vatican said on Friday.
While in Canada, he will visit Edmonton, Quebec and Iqaluit, a small town where about half the population are Inuit.
Last month, Francis made a historic apology for abuses in Canada’s church-run residential schools.
He said he wants to go to Canada to deliver the apology personally to survivors of misguided Catholic missionary zeal.
Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said Francis is “accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities and the Indigenous communities” in making what the Holy See termed an “apostolic journey”.
As the Vatican confirmed the trip, Francis was making another public appearance, in a Vatican auditorium, in a wheelchair.
He used his speech to members of an Italian aviation agency to once again decry the war in Ukraine.
The Vatican said details of the Canada trip will be made public in the coming weeks.
With the visit, Francis, 85, will be putting his stamina to the test.
After weeks of limping badly due to what the Vatican said is a badly strained knee ligament, Francis began arriving at some public appearances in a wheelchair, although on Sunday he did stand at a window of the Apostolic Palace to greet the pilgrims and tourists in St Peter’s Square.
Even before the Canadian trip, he will face another mobility challenge.
In early July, he is scheduled to go to Congo and South Sudan, a trip he hopes will foster reconciliation.
Recently, authorities in Lebanon said a hoped-for visit to that country in June will not happen.
Catholic bishops in Canada welcomed the announcement that Francis is going to their country.
“We are immensely grateful that the Holy Father has accepted our invitation to continue the journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples of this land,” said Bishop Raymond Poisson, president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.”
On April 1, while Indigenous representatives were visiting the Vatican for private encounters with Francis, the pontiff voiced “sorrow and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system.