By Joanna Smith, The Canadian Press
Vatican City: Justin Trudeau says he told Pope Francis it’s important for all Canadians to move forward with reconciliation, and that the pontiff could help by issuing an apology for the role of the Catholic Church played in residential schools.
The prime minister says the Pope appeared to be open to it, noting that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world.
Following his visit to Vatican City, Trudeau says Pope Francis looked forward to working with the prime minister and the Canadian bishops on finding a way forward.
Trudeau says he also invited Pope Francis to visit Canada in the coming years.
He thanked the pontiff for the global leadership he has shown on climate change and the pair discussed the importance of protecting the planet.
Trudeau, a religious Catholic, says the meeting was also an opportunity to have a deeply personal discussion with the leader of his faith.
At 1:04 p.m., a bell rang, signalling the end of the private audience, which began in the Pope’s private quarters at 12:28 p.m.
Trudeau then introduced his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, to the Pope along with officials from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The prime minister gave the Pope a rare set of Jesuit Relations books, which have become an important source detailing the beginnings of Canada.
Trudeau also presented the Pope with a Montagnais-French dictionary written by a French Jesuit in the 17th century.
In return, the Pope gave the prime minister a gold medal marking the fourth year of his pontificate, an autographed copy of his message for World Peace Day and three papal letters about family, environment and evangelism.
Trudeau’s government has promised a call to action on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s demand for a papal apology to survivors, their families and communities related to the dark legacy of residential schools.