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Worshippers, tourists and visitors around the world are increasingly joining virtual reality spiritual trips to some of Earth’s most sacred sites. Without ever leaving home, you can gaze at the majesty of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel ceiling. Or join thousands of pilgrims in Mecca as they pray and circle the cube-shaped Kaaba building at Islam’s most sacred site. Or tour the holy city of Jerusalem, to the murmur of Jewish prayers at the Western Wall and the “amens” of worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Such VR pilgrimages and religious explorations are among the many evolving spaces in the immersive virtual world known as the metaverse.

AP
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Pope Francis wrapped up his Canadian pilgrimage by meeting with Indigenous delegations and visiting Inuit territory in northern Nunavut. In one of his addresses, he assailed the Catholic missionaries who “supported oppressive and unjust policies” against Native peoples in the country's notorious residential schools and vowed to pursue truth and healing. Francis is hoping his apology tour of Canada will help the Catholic Church reconcile with Indigenous peoples today. His apologies have received a mixed response, with some school survivors welcoming them but others saying far more needs to be done to correct past wrongs and pursue justice today.

AP
  • Updated

Pope Francis has come face-to-face with a long-standing demand from Indigenous peoples during his Canada pilgrimage. They want him to formally rescind the papal decrees underpinning the so-called “Doctrine of Discovery” that seemingly legitimized the colonial-era seizure of Native lands and resources.Right before Mass began at Canada's national shrine on Thursday, protesters displayed a banner at the altar. It read “Rescind the Doctrine” in bright red and black letters. It's a reference to the 15th century papal decrees, or bulls, that provided European kingdoms the religious backing to expand their territories for the sake of spreading Christianity. Church officials insist the decrees have long since been superseded by others firmly asserting the rights of Indigenous peoples.