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QUEBEC CITY (LifeSiteNews) – On the fourth day of his Apostolic “pilgrimage” to Canada, Pope Francis joined a pagan “smudging” ritual during his visit to Quebec, partaking in the indigenous practice before delivering a lengthy speech in which he expressed “deep shame and sorrow” for the part played by Catholic Church members in government-funded residential school abuses.

The Pope arrived in Quebec Wednesday afternoon, traveling first to the Archbishopric before transferring to the Citadelle de Quebec, the official home of Governor General Mary Simon, where a welcoming ceremony took place.

After brief introductions, Pope Francis, along with civil dignitaries, was greeted into the reception hall as an indigenous man chanted while beating a drum. According to the emcee, a “traditional Inuit lamp was lit.”

A number of high-ranking prelates were also in attendance, including the Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Christopher Collins; Archbishop of Quebec and Primate of Canada Gerald Lacroix; Cardinal Michael F. Czerny, S.J., prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; Cardinal Marc A. Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops; Archbishop of Edmonton Richard W. Smith; and the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

As part of the planned welcome ceremony, an elder from the Huron-Wendat nation opened proceedings by initiating what is known as a ritual “smudge to the four directions,” using sweetgrass and animal feathers to waft smoke around the room.

As noted by LifeSiteNews, the ritual, which apes the use of Catholic sacraments and sacramentals, “is a clear act of pagan superstition,” reminiscent of the Holy Father’s veneration of the pagan pachamama idol at the Vatican in 2019.

The ritual is intended as “a ritual of purification” in which “mother earth” is prayed to as a kind of pantheistic deity.

The elder explained that he would “light the sweetgrass and make my link with the four directions,” after which he takes “the sweetgrass to Pope Francis and a feather from a wild turkey, which is an element of survival for the Huron-Wendat nation on the land.”

“Sweetgrass purifies through the smell,” the elder said, urging that it is “important that Pope Francis receive this sweetgrass and this feather to participate in the smudge to the four directions.”

The Pope was presented with a turkey feather and sweetgrass, which he took from the elder who then asked all to participate in a “circle in spirit,” from which “we can visualize a sacred fire.” He added that “the sacred fire unites everything that exists in creation.”

“We will honor earth, wind, water, and fire,” the elder stated. “We will honor the mineral aspect, the vegetable aspect, and the human aspect.”

Continuing the ritual, the elder said he “will ask the east direction to open its door so we can have access to that direction. I will as the southern direction to open its door as well to have access to that direction,” he added while fanning the smoking sweetgrass with the turkey feather.

“I will ask the western direction to open that door,” which he called “the grandmother door,” adding lastly that he will “honor the northern direction,” which he called “the direction of grandfathers.”

All present were asked to place their hands over their hearts. Video footage shows Pope Francis participating, as well as the high-ranking bishops and cardinals in the front row of the audience all following suit.

To “open the four directions” the elder whistled through a bone instrument four times before saying: “I ask the western grandmother to give us access to the sacred circle of spirits so they can be with us, so we can be united and stronger together.”

Following the ritual, Francis delivered a speech condemning “ideological colonization,” lamenting a past “colonialist mentality” which he said “disregarded the concrete life of people and imposed certain predetermined cultural modes.”

READ: Pope Francis attends Indigenous ‘healing dance’ to ‘Mother Earth’ during Canada trip

Continuing, the Holy Father appeared to endorse the paganistic rituals of the indigenous peoples, stating that “the Holy See and the local Catholic communities are concretely committed to promoting the indigenous cultures through specific and appropriate forms of spiritual accompaniment that include attention to their cultural traditions, customs, languages and educational processes, in the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.”

Earlier during his Canadian visit, the Pope, donning traditional indigenous headwear, also attended a “healing dance,” replete with drumbeats apparently supposed to imitate “the heartbeat of mother earth.”

As in the “smudge,” reference was made to the “four elements” and the “four directions.” An indigenous leader said that “[f]rom the west side we have the wind, the oxygen that we breathe, this is the government of mother earth. And on the north side we have mother earth, mother earth is who we are. Mother earth is all the plant life, mother earth, our mother, is also the mother of all insect life, mother earth is also the mother of all animals on the ground, in the water, in the air.”

“Mother earth, is of course, the mother of all humanity,” the leader added.

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