Pope Francis Apologizes for Catholics’ Participation in Rwanda Genocide
The Catholic News Service has reported on the meeting of Pope Francis and Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, at the Vatican on 20th March. Pope Francis, following last November’s public apology made by the Rwandan hierarchy concerning the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, used the occasion to issue his own apology on behalf of the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis implored God’s forgiveness “for the sins and failings of the church and its members, among whom priests and religious men and women succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission.”
It is thought that almost one million people from the Tutsi minority perished between April and July 1994.
The Pope expressed the hope, in the light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy, that a ‘purification of memory’ might promote hope and renewed trust, and a future of peace in which the dignity of the human person and “the common good are put at the centre.”
The Catholic church was compromised by its longstanding political ties to the ruling Hutu elite. Archbishop Vincent
Nsengiyumva sat on the ruling party’s central committee for nearly 15 years even as it implemented policies that discriminated against Tutsis.
Once the massacres started, instead of using his political affiliations to urge the regime to stop the killing, he refused even to call it genocide. Witnesses said he stood by as Tutsi priests, monks and a nun were taken to be murdered.
The Catholic News reported that during President Kagame’s 25-minute private meeting with the pope, as well as with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, note was made of “the collaboration between the state and the local church in the work of national reconciliation and in the consolidation of peace for the benefit of the whole nation.”
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