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Pope prays for healing for 'terrible' colonization

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Pope Francis on Tuesday blessed the waters of the lake in Lac Sainte Anne, a pilgrimage site about 70 km (44 miles) west of Edmonton popular with many Canadians, including Indigenous Canadians. The prayer service in Alberta was one of the spiritual highlights of the pontiff's six-day visit to Canada to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in running residential schools that forcibly assimilated the country's Indigenous children into Christian society. On Monday he apologized for the “catastrophic” ways families were torn apart. The ceremony fell on the Feast of St. Anne, the grandmother of Jesus and a figure of particular devotion for Indigenous Catholics, who every year make pilgrimages to Lac Sainte Anne to wade into its waters. After arriving to the sounds of native drumbeats and chanting, the pope, seated in a wheelchair, blessed the lake then spoke of "the wound of the violence suffered by our Indigenous brothers and sisters" and "the terrible effects of colonization." Francis highlighted the importance grandmothers have in Indigenous families, and recalled the critical role his own grandmother Rosa had in transmitting the faith to him as a youngster in Buenos Aires, Argentina. “Part of the painful legacy we are now confronting stems from the fact that Indigenous grandmothers were prevented from passing on the faith in their own language and culture,” he said.

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