Indigenous delegation now rescheduled to meet with Pope at Vatican in March
The original trip, scheduled for last December, was delayed due to concerns over Omicron
An Indigenous delegation has rescheduled a planned trip to visit Pope Francis at the Vatican for the end of March.
The Pope is scheduled to meet with 30 Indigenous delegates from March 28 until April 1, according to a joint statement by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and the organizations representing Inuit, Métis and First Nations — the Assembly of First Nations, Métis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
Pope Francis is to meet with all delegates together, including a secondary group of family members and support staff for a final audience on April 1.
The trip was initially scheduled for last December, but was postponed due to concerns over the Omicron variant.
"The health and safety of all delegates remain our first priority," the statement said. "In the weeks ahead, we will monitor conditions leading up to the revised travel dates and continue our dialogue with delegates, public health officials as well as the relevant government and international authorities, traveling only when we feel it is safe to do so."
The delegates are to include Indigenous elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors and youth. Six bishops are also expected to attend.
Delegates seek papal apology on residential schools
The visit is supposed to lay the groundwork for an upcoming trip by Pope Francis to Canada, which is not scheduled yet.
During their time in Rome, Indigenous delegates will press the Pope to make an official apology for the Roman Catholic Church's role in running residential schools when he comes to Canada.
Although Catholic entities apologized for residential schools, the Roman Catholic Church as a whole is the only institution that has not issued a formal apology.
"We remain committed to walking toward healing and reconciliation and very much look forward to the opportunity for Indigenous Elders, knowledge keepers, residential school survivors, and youth to meet with Pope Francis," the statement said.