The Pope in Canada: Preparing for a “very complicated” and even “chaotic” trip

He says the complexity of these logistics is due, among other things, to the health of the 85-year-old pope, who has been in a wheelchair for several weeks.

logistical constraints

In this situation, the Vatican’s office responsible for papal excursions dictated to organizers based in Canada a series of logistical restrictions in order to limit the movements of the Sovereign Pope.

Since the beginning of May, Pope Francis has appeared in public in a wheelchair, due to knee pain.

Photo: AP / Gregorio Borgia

For example, the head of the Catholic Church will only be able to preside over one major event per day, Unless the second event was short-lived and the Pope had time to rest in the meantime.

Events should be relatively brief, because The Holy Father cannot stay on stage for more than an hour.

For his travels, the sovereign pope cannot take the helicopter, and can only stay in the car for a limited time, which Restricts the distance he can travel and the number of places he can visit.

Moreover, his health condition did not allow him to sleep every night in a different place.

travel program

In light of these limitations and desires formulated by the Pope himself, the first stage of his journey, on the Edmonton side, should take place over the course of several days around July 26.

The Sovereign Pope can visit the site of a former Aboriginal boarding school, as well as Lac Sainte-Anne, a place of pilgrimage for Aboriginal people who venerate Jesus’ grandmother.

Two buildings in front of a lake.

The Pilgrimage to Lac Sainte Anne has been a place of First Nations and Métis Catholic gathering since the 19th century.

Photo: Radio Canada/Travis McEwan

During this first stop, on First Nations lands, the Pope was able to repeat his apology for the Church’s participation in the boarding school system.

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The sovereign Pope will then begin his visit by responding to the call for Action 58 of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which calls for an apology from the Pope on Canadian soil.

The second stage of this trip will take the Pope to Quebec, where a ceremony should take place in the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, also a place of pilgrimage for the indigenous people who owe Saint-Anne.

Exterior view of the facade of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

Tourism professionals in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre expect to benefit from the economic benefits of the Pope’s visit for several years.

Photo: Radio Canada/Victor Barry

The third and final leg of the papal flight, to Iqaluit, should be much shorter, lasting only a few hours, before the Pope returns the plane to Rome.

This will be the first time the Pope has visited the Arctic region.

work coordination

According to one of the organizers of this visit, the number of teams involved in preparing for the trip contributes to its complexity.

In the Vatican, the office responsible for organizing papal excursions is collaborating with the Canadian papal visit team, which must itself work with the country’s various indigenous communities, as well as with the governments of Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut who will do so. Welcome to the Pope.

The challenge is that all First Nations, Inuit, and Métis are concerned about this journey »

Quote from Organizer of the papal visit to Canada

The organization’s team hopes that as many indigenous people as possible will participate in this visit, even if the sovereign pope stops at only three places, due to his age and health problems.

During his trip, the Pope will be accompanied by a team of about 70 people, including, in particular, his medical team, Swiss guards and gendarmes from the Vatican, those responsible for logistics, and interpreters.

The Pope’s logistics and security officials in the Vatican, Take between two to three excursions Before the papal flight, says the president of the International Association of Journalists accredited to the Vatican, Loeb Bismond de Seinville.

The journalist specialized in the Vatican adds that these preparatory trips aim to visit places, assess distances and duration of trips, plan transportation and book hotels for the Pope’s entourage.

For the Sovereign Pope’s residence, the accommodation must meet several security standards and must be approved by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Vatican Gendarmerie. The place should also be sufficient for the Pope in a wheelchair.

Pope Francis in a wheelchair in the Paul VI Hall at the Vatican.

Welcoming the Pope in a wheelchair is one of the limitations of his trip to Canada.

Photo: AP / Gregorio Borgia

Loeb Bismond de Seinville, who follows the Pope on his papal travels, also believed that special devices, such as elevators, could be installed, As was the case during his last trip to Malta last April.

tiring journey

This trip is important and will be very heavy in terms of logistical, human and fatigue, warns Mr. de Seinville.

The Pope will take a long journey, which he has not done for several months, […] There will be domestic flights, timing differences, and temperature differences.

The Pope greets before entering the plane.

Pope Francis will come to Canada after a trip to Africa.

Photo: dpa via getty Images / Andreas Solaro

According to the Vatican, this visit of the Pope will be special because it is a A journey to seek forgiveness is a topic close to his heartAt the same time physically tiring journeyafter three weeks of a multi-day trip to Africa in early July.

Moreover, on arrival at the airport, the head of the Catholic Church should be greeted, as protocol requires, by the Governor-General, Mary Simon, representing the Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II. The fact that she is indigenous helps a lot, because the pope will not only meet with the governor-general, but also an indigenous person.Says one of the organizers.

More than an apology?

Within the organization of the papal visit expected More than an apology On the part of the sovereign pope, given his encounters with indigenous peoples in the Vatican.

The Pope shakes hands with an Enoch woman in front of a full house

Nearly 200 people met the pope during the last audience in March 2022 at the Vatican, mostly from the Inuit, Métis, and First Nations.

Photo: Courtesy Vatican: Divisione Produzione Fotografica Simone Risoluti

Last March, during his meeting with the delegation of Métis, the Pope said three words in English, to make himself understood: Truth, Justice and Healing.

The president of the National Council of the Métis, Cassidy Caron, said at the time that she saw this as a personal commitment on the part of the Pope, and action to come.

Indigenous peoples demand, among other things, the restitution of things belonging to them and which are in the hands of the Church, as well as access to documents relating to boarding schools kept in archives in Catholic religious communities.

According to the tour operator, the Pope usually comes to meet those who have lost faith and hope, to console them, but this time The Holy Father comes to heal the wounds that the church leaders opened themselves.

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