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The Vatican says Pope Francis is ready to visit Canada as Indigenous leaders ask him to apologize for the role of the Catholic Church in residential schools.

The Vatican said in a statement that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops has invited Francis to visit Canada, and that he has indicated its “willingness” to do so at an undetermined date.

The development precedes a trip to the Vatican that First Nations, Métis and Inuit leaders plan to make in December to meet with the Pope in hopes of obtaining an apology.

The 2015 final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which chronicled the abuse suffered by Indigenous children in federally-funded church-funded residential schools, calls for a papal apology to be made to Canada.

These calls have escalated over the past year following the discovery of hundreds of anonymous graves at the sites of former Indian residential schools by First Nations in British Columbia and Saskatchewan.

Criticism also intensified as concerns were raised that the Catholic Church failed to properly compensate residential school survivors as agreed as part of a historic settlement.

-With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 27, 2021

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