VATICAN CITY MARCH 21, 2017 (CISA) – Pope Francis on March 20 expressed his sadness for members of the Catholic Church who participated in the 1994 genocide, asking for forgiveness and assuring those who still suffer of his prayer.
He was speaking March 20, during a brief meeting with Rwandan president Paul Kagame at the Vatican.
According to a Vatican statement the Pope “conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi.”
“He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events,” read the statement.
While evoking the gesture of Pope St John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Pope implored God’s forgiveness “for the sins and failings of the Church and its members, among whom priests, and religious men and women who succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”
Pope Francis further noted the statement published by the Rwandan bishops at the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy last asking forgiveness for the failure of the Church and her members, and expressed his desire that his own “humble recognition” of the failings of that time, “which, unfortunately, disfigured the face of the Church, may contribute to a purification of memory.”
He also voiced his hope that the renewed apology “may promote, in hope and renewed trust, a future of peace, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together, once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the center.”
During the visit, President Kagame and his entourage subsequently met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
The Rwandan genocide began April 7, 1994, after controversy over the plane crash that killed the then-president of Rwanda, a Hutu. In the aftermath, Hutu extremists killed over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
About 57 percent of Rwanda is Catholic, with another 37 percent Protestant or Seventh day Adventist. The churches have worked to bring about healing and reconciliation as well.