Thu. Jan 20th, 2022

A native delegation is postponing a trip to the Vatican scheduled for next week due to concerns about the omicron variant.

The delegates were supposed to hold private meetings with Pope Francis from December 17 to 20 to lay the groundwork for his upcoming trip to Canada, which is not yet planned.

The president and vice president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, which is organizing the tour, is in Rome and working to reschedule meetings to early 2022.

“The decision to postpone was a heartbreaking decision, made after careful consultation with delegates, family members, community leaders, public health officials and the leadership of each of the three national indigenous organizations,” said a joint statement issued by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and National original organizations.

“We understand that the Holy See is very much committed to reorganizing this visit in the new year, and we look forward to the opportunity.”

SE | The AFN chief says the Vatican’s journey has been delayed due to new concerns

The assembly of First Nations national chief RoseAnne Archibald announced the postponement in a speech this morning to First Nations chiefs attending a winter meeting.

“The health and well-being of our delegates, their families and communities is paramount to us and we will not endanger anyone if we can help it,” Archibald said.

Health, raises concerns

The delegates who were to travel to Rome expressed concern about possible pandemic health risks for vulnerable participants, especially the elderly.

They were also worried about travel complications that could arise, as the meetings had to take place a few days before the holiday.

No dates have been set for new meetings.

Pope Francis arrives for a meeting with young people at the Saint Dionysius School of the Ursuline Sisters in Athens, Greece on Monday. December 6, 2021. (Alessandra Tarantino / AP)

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Regina Donald Bolen told CBC News that he is comfortable with the idea of ​​traveling at present, but he understands the health problems of the native delegates.

“Relationships are being strengthened, the voices of survivors are being heard, the waves of suffering experienced in schools are being recognized in a greater way than they have ever done before,” Bolen said.

“I sincerely hope that the work of truth and reconciliation continues, and of course it can continue.”

The delegates planned to urge the pope to personally apologize for the role of the Roman Catholic Church in running residential schools.

Three separate delegations representing First Nations, Inuit and Métis were to have one hour each to speak to the Pope, followed by a final meeting with all delegates to hear his response.

This is not the first time that the pope’s audience has been delayed. The meetings were pushed back when the pandemic was first declared.

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