Trudeau seeks papal apology over Canada school abuse

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau makes his way through the streets of Taromina Italy during the G7 Summit on Friday

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his wife, Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau, met Pope Francis on Monday in a private audience in the Vatican, the Holy See said in a statement.

According to a brief May 29 communique from the Vatican, Pope Francis and Prime Minister Trudeau conversed on the topics of integration and reconciliation with indigenous people, as well as religious liberty and current ethical issues.

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for a papal apology, as part of the healing process for survivors.

Chief Wilton Littlechild, who was one of the TRC commissioners, said he met with the Pope previous year and invited him to come to Canada to issue the apology.

Trudeau said he asked the Pope to issue a formal apology for the role the Catholic Church played in the residential school system in Canada.

On Monday, Trudeau said he invited the Pope to visit Canada in the coming years, and thanked him for the global leadership he has shown on climate change.

The meeting was not Trudeau's first visit to the Vatican.

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Canadian bishops have said the pope might visit next year.

Trudeau, a religious Catholic, says the meeting was also an opportunity to have a deeply personal discussion with the leader of his faith.

The Pope - himself no stranger to the cause of social justice, he noted to Trudeau - seemed open to the idea, the prime minister said as he related the broad strokes of their private conversation at the Vatican. The Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2015 that people who are "grievously and irremediably ill" have a right to medical assistance in dying.

Trudeau gave the Pope an edition of the six-volume Relations des Jesuites de la Nouvelle-France, a collection of 17th-century reports from Jesuit missionaries in what is now Canada. Trudeau presented Pope Francis with a Montagnais-French dictionary written by a French Jesuit in the 17th century.

Pope Francis, appreciating the gift, told the prime minister "it was a custom of the Jesuits" to compile such dictionaries when they began missions in new lands.

Along with the three customary documents, the Pope also gave the prime minister a copy of his message for the 2017 World Day of Peace, which he signed, just like the one he gave to U.S. President Donald Trump during their meeting last week. From March to May, Pope Francis spent hours listening to the bishops, who made their ad limina visits to the Vatican in four groups (Atlantic, western, Ontario and Quebec).

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has been tasked with collecting the stories of survivors and recommending a way forward for the country to heal, has called the residential school system "cultural genocide".

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