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A Brief History of the Pope’s Visits to Canada

Before commercial air travel, which became common only in the mid-20th century, it was historically rare for a Pope to travel outside of Europe.

According to the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), this states that “the main reason a Pope would go to another diocese in Italy or to another country in the world is to fulfill a pastoral need.” Specifically”.

The need today is reconciliation, with Pope Francis set to meet representatives of Indigenous peoples during a six-day trip to Canada. His visit was an attempt to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in forcing some 150,000 Indigenous children into Canada’s residential school system.

As Pope Francis approaches Edmonton via air, marking his first visit to the country in 20 years, CTVNews.ca looks back at other historic visits by a former Catholic Church leader .


Pope John Paul II’s Apostic Visit, September 9, 1984

The Pope’s first visit to Canada took place in 1984, when Pope John Paul II stepped off the Pope’s plane in Quebec City. The 12-day trip toured the country, including Quebec City, Trois-Rivières, Montreal, St. John’s, Moncton, Halifax, Toronto, Midland (Ontario), Winnipeg/St. Boniface, Edmonton, Yellowknife, Vancouver and Ottawa.

“Speaking in English and French, the Holy Father gave more than 30 keynote addresses as well as numerous other statements, some of which were directed to Indigenous Peoples,” the CCCB website reads.


Pope John Paul II’s Apostic Visit, September 20, 1987

The Pope’s second visit to Canada occurred on the morning of September 20, 1987, when Pope John Paul II returned to visit Fort Simpson, Northwest Territories – a destination on the itinerary of his previous visit. Had to cancel due to weather conditions.

On its website, the CCCB described the visit as a “spiritual celebration”.


Pope John Paul II’s Third Visit, July 23, 2002

The Pope’s third visit occurred in July 2002 for World Youth Day in Toronto, where, according to the CCCB, “a herd of more than 800,000 people gathered in Downsview Park for the closing Mass of the Pope. Pope.”

The Pope spent six days in and around the major Canadian city.


What to Expect About Pope Francis’ Visit

Among the Pope’s scheduled destinations is the Ermineskin School of the American Indian Community in the community of Maskwacis, Alberta. This is where he is expected to issue a formal apology to Indigenous Peoples for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

The Canada tour will also take the pope to Edmonton, Quebec City and Iqaluit.

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