News Headlines > Francis pleads for God's forgiveness for Church role in genocide as Tutsi president of Rwanda visits Vatican

20 March 2017 | by Sean Smith

Francis pleads for God's forgiveness for Church role in genocide as Tutsi president of Rwanda visits Vatican

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Pope hopes 'humble recognition' of failings of 'disfigured' Catholic Church may contribution to 'purification of memory

Pope Francis has asked for God's forgiveness for "the sins and failings" of priests, religious men and Catholics for their part in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994.

Receiving the the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in a private audience at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Monday, Francis conveyed his "profound sadness" at the Catholic Church's role in the killing of between 800,000 to 1 million ethnic Tutsis and a small number of moderate Hutus by Hutu extremists.

A statement released by the Holy See after the meeting this morning said: “In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the Statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion, the Pope also 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, 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 centre.”

Francis “conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi," in the meeting. The statement added that the Pope "expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events and, evoking the gesture of Pope St John Paul II during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, he implored anew 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.”

The Catholic Church in Rwanda last year publicly apologised for the actions of some Catholics and priests during the genocide that lasted around 100 days in 1994. Some of the massacres were carried out in churches where many Tutsis were massacred as they sought refuge from the militias.

Kagame, a Tutsi, was the leader of a rebel force that helped bring an end to the slaughter. After meeting Francis, Kagame and his entourage met with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, Archbishop Paul R. Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.

PICTURE - Pope Francis greets President of Rwanda Paul Kagame at the Vatican four months after the Catholic Church’s local Episcopal Council issued a statement apologising for the participation of some of its church members in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi


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