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Trudeau says he also invited Pope Francis to visit Canada in the coming years.

Canadians want to press ahead with reconciliation in the wake of the residential school era, Justin Trudeau said Monday as he described his efforts to encourage Pope Francis to apologize for the Catholic Church's role in the tragedy.

Justin Trudeau, a Catholic, arrived in the Vatican this morning and met the Pope inside the Vatican's apostolic palace where the pair had a 36-minute private discussion.

"I told him about how important it is for Canadians that we move forward on real reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology", Mr. Trudeau told reporters on Monday.

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up inform the Canadian public about the schools, and to study the trauma suffered by those forced to attend them, called on the pope to make an apology in Canada. Critics of the schools have argued that the institutions were part of an attempt to destroy native tribal cultures.

Trudeau, who has promised to act on each recommendation, had previously promised to speak to the Pope about an apology, but pointed out he could not compel the pontiff to agree.

"He reminded me that his entire life has been dedicated to supporting marginalized people in the world", Trudeau said after he arrived back in Rome.

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While all the bishops of Canada have not formally invited the Pope to Canada, during the ad limina visits several of the groups explained the situation of Canada's indigenous peoples, the history of the residential schools and the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Justin Trudeau himself presented his "most honest apology" to the aboriginal people and asked them "forgiveness" on behalf of the Government of Canada. But he said Pope Francis doesn't plan to visit Canada this year.

Former prime minister Stephen Harper mentioned the commission's finding during a 10-minute audience with Pope Francis in 2015, but did not seek a formal apology.

Canadian bishops from the provinces of Ontario and Quebec met with Pope Francis recently for their ad limina visits in April and the beginning of May.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who like Trudeau had been in Brussels for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation leaders' meeting and in Sicily for the G7 summit, met the Pope for about 30 minutes last week.

The official Vatican statement on the meeting between Trudeau and the pope did not include information on the apology.

The Pope gave Trudeau the gold medallion minted for the fourth year of his pontificate (2016-17), which features an "embrace" as "a symbol of forgiveness, joy and mutual acceptance", according to the Vatican's description. "So this follow with Prime Minister Trudeau today is really great news", Mr. Littlechild said.