The Pope of Canada: a “very complicated” even “chaotic” travel preparation

The complexity of this logistics, he says, is due in part to the state of health of the 85-year-old pope, who has been moving around in a wheelchair for several weeks.

Logistical restrictions

In light of this situation, the Vatican’s office responsible for papal travel has dictated to Canada-based organizers a series of logistical restrictions to restrict the movements of the sovereign pope.

Since the beginning of May, Pope Francis has appeared in public in a wheelchair due to knee pain.

Photo: AP / Gregorio Borgia

For example, the leader of the Catholic Church will only be able to preside over one major event a day, unless the second event is short-lived and the pope has time to rest in the meantime.

The events had to be relatively short because the holy father can not stay on stage for more than an hour.

On his travels, the sovereign pope can not take the helicopter, and he can only stay in the car for a limited period, which limits the distance he can travel and the number of places he can visit.

Moreover, his state of health does not allow him to sleep every night somewhere else.

The travel program

In view of these limitations and the wishes expressed by the pope himself, the first stage of his journey, on Edmonton’s side, was to take place over several days around 26 July.

The sovereign pope could visit the site of a former boarding school for Aborigines, as well as Lac Sainte-Anne, a pilgrimage site for Aborigines honoring Jesus’ grandmother.

Two buildings in front of a lake.

Lac Sainte-Anne Pilgrimage has been a Catholic gathering place for First Nations and Métis since the 19th century.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Travis McEwan

It is during this first stop, on the lands of the first nations, that the Pope could repeat his apologies for the Church’s involvement in the housing school system.

The sovereign pope would then begin his visit by responding to the call for action 58 in the report of the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which calls for an apology from the pope on Canadian soil.

The second stage of this journey will take the Pope to Quebec, where a ceremony is to be held in the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre, also a place of pilgrimage for Aborigines who have a devotion to Sainte-Anne.

Exterior view of the facade of the Basilica of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.

Tourist professionals in Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré expect to benefit from the economic benefits of the pope’s visit for several years.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Victor Paré

The third and final part of the papal journey, to Iqaluit, was to be much shorter and last only a few hours before the pope took the plane back to Rome.

This will be the first time a pope has visited the Arctic region.

Coordinating work

According to one of the organizers of this visit, the number of teams involved in the preparation of the trip contributes to its complexity.

In the Vatican, the office responsible for organizing the papal voyages is collaborating with the Canadian team of the papal visit, which will work with the various indigenous communities in the country, as well as with the governments of Alberta, Quebec and Nunavut, who will bid the pope welcomed.

The challenge is that all First Nations, Inuit and Métis feel worried about this journey »

A quote from An organizer of the papal visit to Canada

The organizing team hopes that as many Aborigines as possible can attend this visit, even though the sovereign pope only stops in three places because of his age and his health problems.

During his trip, the pope will be accompanied by a team of about 70 people, including in particular his medical team, Swiss guards and gendarmes from the Vatican, those responsible for logistics and interpreters.

Pope’s logistics and security officials at the Vatican, make between two and three reconnaissance trips before the papacy, says the president of the International Association of Journalists Accredited to the Vatican, Loup Besmond de Senneville.

The Vatican-based journalist adds that these preparatory trips are intended to visit the sites, assess the distances and duration of the trips, plan modes of transport and book the hotels for the Pope’s entourage.

With regard to the accommodation of the sovereign pope, the place of residence must meet several security criteria and must be approved by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Vatican Gendarmerie. The place must also be adequately accessible for the pope in a wheelchair.

Pope Francis in a wheelchair in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican.

Welcoming a pope in a wheelchair is one of the limitations of his trip to Canada.

Photo: AP / Gregorio Borgia

Loup Besmond de Senneville, who accompanies the pope on his papal journeys, also believes that special devices could be installed, such as elevators, as was the case during his last trip to Malta in April last year.

A tiring trip

This trip is important and will be quite heavy logistically, humanly and in terms of fatigue, warns Mr de Senneville.

The pope is going on a long flight, which he has not done for several months. […] there will be domestic flights, time differences and temperature differences.

The Pope pays tribute before boarding the plane.

Pope Francis comes to Canada after a trip to Africa.

Photo: dpa via getty images / Andreas Solaro

According to the Vatican, this visit by the Pope will be special because it is one travel by asking for forgiveness for a topic that is close to his heartand at the same time a physically tiring tripthree weeks after a multi-day trip to Africa in early July.

In addition, the head of the Catholic Church when arriving at the airport, as required by the protocol, should be greeted by the Governor-General, Mary Simon, who represents the Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II. The fact that she is a native helps a lot, because the pope will not only meet the governor general, but a nativesays an organizer.

More than an excuse?

Within the organization of the papal visit, it is expected more than an apology from the sovereign papal side in view of his encounters with the Aboriginal peoples of the Vatican.

The pope shakes hands with an Inuk woman in front of a full house

Nearly 200 people met the pope during the last audience in March 2022 in the Vatican, mainly Inuit, Métis and First Nations people

Photo: Vatican Courtesy: Simone Risoluti Photographic Production Division

Last March, during his audience with the Métis delegation, the pope said three words in English to make himself understood: truth, justice, and healing.

The president of the Métis National Council, Cassidy Caron, said at the time that she saw it as a personal commitment on the part of the pope and future actions.

The Aborigines demand, among other things, the return of objects that belong to them and that are in the hands of the church, as well as access to documents regarding boarding schools that are archived in Catholic denominations.

According to an organizer of the tour, the pope usually comes to meet those who have lost faith and hope, to comfort them, but this time the Holy Father comes to heal wounds opened by church leaders themselves.

Leave a Comment