Pope Francis to visit Canada in July

Pope Francis will fulfill his promise to meet with the Indigenous people on Canadian soil in late July. The much-awaited papal visit will focus on healing and reconciliation. 

The Vatican has announced that the Pontiff will make this historic visit to three communities.

“Accepting the invitation of the civil and ecclesiastical Authorities and the indigenous communities, His Holiness Pope Francis will make an Apostolic Journey to Canada from 24 to 30 July 2022. During this time, he will visit the cities of Edmonton, Québec and Iqaluit,” said a Vatican press statement.

Bishop Raymond Poisson, President of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) welcomed the formal confirmation of the visit.

“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,” Bishop Poisson said in a statement posted on the CCCB website. “In late July, Pope Francis will have the opportunity to visit Indigenous Peoples here in their homeland, as he promised when he met them recently in Rome.”

“We pray for the health of the Holy Father as we undertake the intensive planning for this historic visit,” he added.

The CCCB statement said the short trip was planned keeping in mind the pope’s age and health. 

“Given the vast landscape of Canada, the limited time period for the visit and considering the health of the 85 year old Pontiff, the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will adopt only three communities as a base for his Canadian visit: Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit. The locations will limit travel for the Holy Father while still allowing an opportunity for both intimate and public encounters, drawing on participation from all regions of the country,” the statement read. 

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops also explained why these three locations were selected.

“Edmonton is home to the second largest number of Indigenous Peoples living in urban Canadian centres. In addition, 25 residential schools were located in Alberta, the most of any province or territory in Canada,” the statement said.

“Iqaluit, with close to 8,000 people, is home to the highest population of Inuit (3,900) of all Canadian cities with more than 5,000 people. Pope Francis was personally invited by Inuit delegates to visit the North during their meetings in March.

“Quebec City provides an eastern hub for those who may wish to travel to see Pope Francis, especially Indigenous Peoples of the East. The region is also home to Ste. Anne-de-Beaupré, one of the oldest and most popular pilgrimage sites in North America, drawing Indigenous Peoples and others from throughout Canada and around the world each year,” the CCCB stated.

Given the focus on Indigenous healing and reconciliation, the Holy Father is expected to visit the site of a former residential school and other locations of particular significance, according to the CCCB.

Typically, six to eight weeks prior to a papal visit, a full program and itinerary are released by the Vatican. At that time, the public will have an opportunity to learn more about how they may participate in the numerous events and related activities for the papal visit, along with volunteer opportunities and other relevant details.

Archbishop Richard Smith has been appointed as the general coordinator for the papal visit. As Archbishop of Edmonton, Smith also accompanied Indigenous delegates to the Vatican earlier this year and has long-standing relationships with Indigenous leaders.

“I am humbled to serve as General Coordinator for this historic visit from Pope Francis,” said Archbishop Smith. “I look forward to working with Indigenous Peoples from across this land, as well as local, provincial and federal partners, as we prepare to welcome the Holy Father and continue to walk together on this important healing and reconciliation journey.”

On April 1, 2022, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church’s role in Canada’s residential school system. The Holy Father expressed “sorrow and shame” for the abuse and lack of respect for Indigenous identities, culture and spiritual values in the residential school system.

The CCCB said the Holy Father’s apology was informed by private encounters between March 28 and April 1 with 32 Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors and youth representing the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the Métis National Council (MNC), and the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK).

This will be the fourth papal journey to Canada and the first since Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2002.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here