By Brian Dryden
OTTAWA, Canada, (Canadian Catholic News) – The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations will not meet with the Pope when a meeting scheduled for December between Pope Francis and Canadian Indigenous leaders will be held, and it’s still not certain if any AFN leaders will attend.
“The AFN executive committee will make a decision very soon on whether the AFN will attend that meeting. I will not be there,” said AFN National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said August 31 of the meeting with the Pope that her predecessor Chief Perry Bellegarde and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) touted as a key step on the road towards reconciliation between Indigenous Canadians and the Catholic Church.
Archibald, who was elected to her post in July, said the AFN is still deciding how best to formally ask the Pope to make an apology on Canadian soil for the Church’s role in residential schools, one of the key recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
“I know we need to press the Pope to come to Canada. The process of inviting him, I would say we are working on,” said Archibald. “We have been very public. We want the Pope here in Canada.”
Archibald made her comments during an online press conference in which the AFN released “The Healing Path Forward: 2021 Federal Election Priorities For First Nations and Canada,” which put reconciliation and healing as a top priority for the AFN.
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