Vatican to announce late July visit by Pope Francis to Canada

The Vatican is expected to officially announce a July visit by Pope Francis to Canada on Friday, CBC News has learned. 

The announcement will confirm the Pope’s trip to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit during the last week of July, according to confidential sources whom the CBC is not identifying because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The CBC previously reported the three cities were under strong consideration for the papal visit.

More locations near the sites and specific itinerary details will be released later on.

Planning is underway for the Pope to visit the Lac Ste. Anne Pilgrimage grounds, a designated national historic site located about 75 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, and possibly Ermineskin Cree Nation, about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton.

The pontiff initially announced his plan to visit Canada during a meeting on April 1 with First Nations, Inuit and Métis delegates, who travelled to the Vatican to meet him.

Pope Francis also offered an initial apology for the actions of individual Roman Catholic Church members in Canada’s residential schools. 

Pope Francis hands a gift to Rosemary Lundrigan of the Inuit delegation at the Vatican on April 1. (Vatican Media via Reuters)

The delegates, who travelled to Rome, want the Pope to issue an apology in Canada for the role the Roman Catholic Church played in operating the majority of residential schools, which would fulfil a key call from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

“You have brought here to Rome a living sense of your communities,” the Pope told delegates on April 1

“I will be happy to benefit again from meeting you when I visit your native lands, where your families live.”

Lebanon trip postponed

Earlier this week, the Pope postponed his trip to Lebanon scheduled for next month because of health issues. 

The 85-year-old has a chronic nerve condition called sciatica, which causes pain from his lower back down to his legs. 

He walks with a pronounced limp and has difficulty using stairs, so accessibility is a key factor for any site he visits in Canada.

“Given the Holy Father’s advanced age and the size of Canada, we know that the visit will take place in a targeted group of communities,” a spokesperson for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops previously told CBC. 

Pope Francis arrives in a wheelchair to attend an audience with nuns and religious superiors in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican on May 5. The Pope suffers from strained ligaments in his right knee and recently revealed he had undergone some injections to relieve the pain, though it wasn’t clear what the procedure entailed. (Alessandra Tarantino/The Associated Press)

Before the Pope travels to Rome, he visits South Sudan with the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Justin Welby issued a residential school apology in Canada last month on behalf of the Church of England and worldwide Anglican Church.

“I will have an opportunity to discuss with him what I learned,” Welby said.

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