Trudeau to raise residential school apology with the Pope
ROME — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to raise reconciliation with indigenous peoples, the global fight against climate change and the importance of religious and cultural diversity when he meets with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Monday.
There, he will also ask the pontiff to issue a formal apology in Canada for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission included the demand for a papal apology among the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark history and legacy of residential schools. The Liberal government has promised to act on all of them.
In 2009, the previous pope, Benedict XVI, did express “sorrow” on behalf of the Catholic Church for the “deplorable conduct” by some members of the church in their treatment of indigenous children in residential schools.
Trudeau, who is religious, is also expected to discuss the Catholic community in Canada.
Trudeau, in Rome this week following his participation at the NATO and G7 summits, wants to promote trade and other ties with Italy, including the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union.
Monday morning, the prime minister will part in an event with the soccer team, A.S. Roma.
On Sunday, Trudeau appealed to the heart of the country by visiting Amatrice, a tiny town still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake.
“It’s an opportunity to share our thoughts, our condolences, our sympathies, but also demonstrate our resolve to accompany our friends in this difficult time,” Trudeau said Sunday as he stood below a clock tower, the only structure standing on a street lined with rubble.
That clock is stopped at 3:36 — the time in the morning the 6.2-magnitude quake hit the area in central Italy about 100 kilometres northeast of Rome on Aug. 24, 2016. Some 300 people were killed, including one Canadian.
Many of them were children, and signs of their presence, including an illustrated cloth book and an inflatable pool toy, could be seen among the rocks, dust and other rubble piled high.
Efforts to rebuild the town, which includes many heritage buildings from medieval times, have been moving slowly.
The prime minister arrived in the town via an Italian government helicopter and he was greeted warmly with a long embrace by the local mayor, Sergio Pirozzi.
In Amatrice, Trudeau surveyed the damage and spoke to residents, emergency responders and others working to rebuild the town.
He also laid a bouquet of flowers at a memorial to the victims.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in blue hard hat, takes a tour on Sunday of Amatrice, the central Italian town turned to rubble by an earthquake last year that killed nearly 300 people.