Pope Francis has agreed to meet in December with Indigenous survivors of Canada’s notorious residential schools amid calls for a papal apology for the Catholic Church’s role in the abuse and deaths of thousands of native children.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops said Francis had invited the delegations to the Vatican and would meet separately with three groups – First Nations, Metis and Inuit – during their December 17-20 visit.
The pope will then preside over a final audience with all three groups December 20, the conference said in a statement Tuesday.
It came as officials announced that another 182 bodies had been discovered in unmarked graves at a school near Cranbook, British Columbia – following the recovery of more than 900 bodies at two other sites since May.
The Vatican didn’t confirm the pope’s visit on Wednesday, but the Holy See’s in-house news portal reported on the bishops’ statement.