In an extraordinary statement after Pope Francis’ meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that the church itself bore blame, as well as some Catholic priests and nuns who “succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission” by participating in the genocide.
According to Associated Press, his came Monday, March 20, as Pope Francis begged forgiveness for the “sins and failings of the church and its members” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide as he sought to open a new phase in relations nearly a quarter-century after the slaughter.
During the 100-day genocide, more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists. Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns, according to some accounts by survivors, and the Rwandan government says many died in the churches where they had sought refuge.
During the 25-minute meeting in the Apostolic Palace, Francis “implored anew God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church and its members,” the Vatican said.
He “expressed the desire that this humble recognition of the failings of that period, which unfortunately disfigured the face of the church, may contribute to a ‘purification of memory’ and may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace.”
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