Pope Francis Sorry for Church 'Failings' During Rwanda Genocide

21 March, 2017, 01:21 | Author: Valerie Burke
  • Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Monday begged forgiveness for the church's failures during the 1994 Rwandan Genocide in which close to one million ethnic Tustis were killed.

"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", the Vatican said.

The pontiff "conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the Genocide against the Tutsi", the Vatican said in a statement following a meeting yesterday between Pope Francis and President Kagame. During Rwanda's annual dialogue in December, Kagame said he didn't understand why the church was so reluctant to apologize for genocide when popes have apologized for much lesser crimes. "He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events".

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the Republic of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in a private audience at the Vatican's Apostolic Palace on Monday.

The Catholic Church in Rwanda a year ago publicly apologised for the actions of some Catholics and priests during the genocide that lasted around 100 days in 1994. "We regret that church members violated their oath of allegiance to God's commandments" and that some Catholics were involved in planning, aiding and carrying out the massacres. But Rwanda's government indicated it felt the apology did not go far enough, saying the local Church was still complicit in protecting the perpetrators of the genocide. Thousands of people were butchered in churches where they sought refuge.

For two decades following the genocide, the Vatican maintained that although individual clergy had committed bad crimes, the church bore no institutional responsibility.

"The Rwandan government at the time said the apology was 'profoundly inadequate".

Another, Father Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, helped draw up lists of people to be killed and raped young women, according to charges issued by the UN's worldwide criminal tribunal for Rwanda in 2005.

The Catholic Church in Rwanda past year offered an apology, saying some of its members had fanned the ethnic hatred that led to the killings, but Mr Kagame said at the time that he wanted the Pope himself to say sorry. Researchers have suggested the church was "deeply implicated" in the genocide, with the country's churches serving as "killing fields". It is a positive step forward in the relationship between Rwanda and the Holy See, based on a frank and shared understanding of Rwanda's history and the imperative to combat genocide ideology.

"It allows us to build a stronger base for restoring harmony between Rwandans and the Catholic Church", she added in a statement released by the presidency.

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