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Pope leaves Alberta for next stops in reconciliation journey


Pope Francis left Edmonton, Alta., Wednesday morning to continue his "penitential pilgrimage" across Canada.

The papal motorcade – consisting of security and police, Vatican cardinals, and journalists accredited to follow Francis onto Quebec – began to pull into Edmonton International Airport around 8:20 a.m.

Francis left the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton at roughly the same time, his white Fiat arriving at the tarmac shortly before 9 a.m.

The pontiff sat in the vehicle's front seat and waved to onlookers, nearly making one, Emelie Echalar, cry.

"I missed him yesterday … so this is the chance for me today," she told CTV News Edmonton while standing outside the airport's fence.

"I prepared myself for today, I woke up early."

Francis is scheduled to visit with officials on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec City, hold a mass at the National Shrine of Ste. Anne de Beaupré east of the city, then attend vespers with church officials at the Cathedral-Basilica of Notre-Dame de Quebec before heading to Nunavut on Friday.

The departure from Edmonton marks the half-way point of the pope's visit to Canada.

Francis landed in Alberta's capital city on Sunday, setting off a whirlwind three days of public appearances with a theme of reconciliation: first, the historic apology to Indigenous Peoples for the Catholic church's role in Canada's residential school system; then, a visit to an Indigenous church in Edmonton; a public mass attended by some 40,000 people in Edmonton on Tuesday; and prayers at the sacred waters of Lac Ste. Anne.

Throughout his time in Alberta, the Pope begged forgiveness from the First Nations, Métis and Inuit people of Canada, recognized their resilience, and spoke of the next steps in reconciliation.

"Your presence here today is a testimony of resilience and a fresh start of pilgrimage towards healing of a heart open to God who heals the lives of communities. Today, all of us as a church need healing," Francis said in Spanish to those who attended Lac Ste. Anne on Tuesday.

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