Plans continue for the Pope’s visit to Canada this summer even as the pontiff has cancelled a trip to Africa on doctors’ orders.
He is expected to deliver an apology to Indigenous people for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools during the much anticipated visit. He made an initial apology after First Nations, Metis and Inuit delegations met with him at the Vatican earlier this year.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is in regular contact with Vatican officials about the trip set for next month, said Neil MacCarthy, a spokesman for the papal visit and the archdiocese of Toronto.
“We continue to pray for the health of Pope Francis and that he will be able to join us in Canada next month,” MacCarthy said in an email.
The 85-year-old pontiff has been using a wheelchair for more than a month and has struggled to walk and stand.
The trip to Congo and South Sudan was to take place July 2 to July 7. It will be rescheduled for a later date “in order not to jeopardize the results of the therapy that he is undergoing for his knee,” the Vatican said Friday.
The Canadian papal visit is scheduled for July 24 to July 29. Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit are to act as bases for the trip.
MacCarthy said great care is being taken to ensure the Pope has periods of rest so that he can participate in all the planned Canadian events.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has said the Pope is limited in how he can travel. He can no longer ride in helicopters and he can’t be in a vehicle for more than an hour.
An estimated 150,000 Indigenous children were forced to attend residential schools in Canada and more than 60 per cent of the schools were run by the Catholic Church.