VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis begged on Monday forgiveness for the church’s failures during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide in which close to one million ethnic Tustis were killed.
The papal statement followed Francis’ meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and First Lady Jeannette Kagame at the Vatican.
The Pope acknowledged that several members of the Catholic Church in that country “succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”
In the statement, Francis “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.”
The Catholic Church in Rwanda had in November 2016 issued an official apology for its role in the genocide and Pope John Paul II made a similar call for forgiveness in 2000.
The church became implicated in 1994 genocide when several of its officials were found to have helped aid and plan the program of ethnic-cleansing led by extremist Hutus against Tutsis and moderate Hutus.