(Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Vatican waiting to meet with Pope Francis Monday. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino/Associated Press)
The Canadian Press
VATICAN CITY – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has had a private visit with Pope Francis at the Vatican.
It’s unclear what was said in the meeting, which lasted more than 30 minutes, but Trudeau was expected to discuss reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, religious diversity, and climate change.
The prime minister has given the Pope a rare set of Jesuit Relations books, which have become an important source detailing the beginnings of Canada.
Trudeau also presented Pope Francis 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 was expected to ask the pontiff to issue a formal apology in Canada for the role of the Catholic Church in the residential school system.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission included the demand for a papal apology _ to survivors, their families and communities _ among the 94 recommendations in its report on the dark history and legacy of residential schools.
The Liberal government has promised to act on all of them.
Trudeau, who is religious, is also expected to discuss the Catholic community in Canada.
Former prime minister Stephen Harper, who issued a residential schools apology on behalf of the Canadian government in 2008, did not raise the issue directly during a 10-minute audience with Pope Francis two years ago. Harper did mention the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
In 2009, the previous pope, Benedict XVI, did express “sorrow” on behalf of the Catholic Church for the “deplorable conduct” by some members of the church in their treatment of Indigenous children in residential schools.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission report said this did not go far enough, especially since it was not made in public.