Pope Francis has asked Rwandan President Paul Kagame for forgiveness for the “sins and failings” of the Catholic Church during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.
During a meeting with Kagame Monday at the Vatican, the Pope expressed “solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events,” according to a statement from the Vatican.
Pope Francis acknowledged that priests, nuns and members of the Catholic church had succumbed to hatred and violence in Rwanda, “betraying their own evangelical mission,” the Vatican said.
Rwanda’s foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo, who accompanied President Kagame on the trip, said the meeting was a positive step forward.
“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. In November, the Catholic Church in Rwanda apologized for its members’ role in the genocide that saw hundreds of thousands of Rwandans killed in 1994.
Rwandan bishops asked for “forgiveness for sins of hatred and disagreement that happened in the country to the point of hating our own countrymen because of their origin,” in a statement read after mass in parishes across the country.
In 1994, Hutu extremists in Rwanda targeted minority ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus in a three-month killing spree that left an estimated 800,000 people dead.
Hutu attackers burned down churches with hundreds or thousands of Tutsis inside. …
Although the church states it did not send anyone to participate in the killings, it acknowledges that its members were active, apologizing for “Christian leaders who caused divisions among people and planted seeds of hate.”
The church released its apology to coincide with the last day of the Jubilee Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis. …
While several priests have been tried in the UN tribunal and in local courts, Rwandan genocide scholar Tom Ndahiro said that others continue to operate without repercussions.
“There are many more [priests] who have not been held into account,” said Ndahiro.
“None of them have been held responsible by the Catholic Church itself and that is what is missing. You have civil courts that have tried them but the church has its laws and none of them has been held to account by the Catholic Church.”
“The influence of Rome in the countries that once acknowledged her dominion is still far from being destroyed. And prophecy foretells a restoration of her power. “I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast” (Revelation 13:3). The infliction of the deadly wound points to the downfall of the papacy in 1798. After this, says the prophet, “his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.” Paul states plainly that the “man of sin” will continue until the second advent (2 Thessalonians 2:3–8). To the very close of time he will carry forward the work of deception. … In both the Old and the New World, the papacy will receive homage in the honor paid to the Sunday institution, that rests solely upon the authority of the Roman Church.” The Great Controversy, 578.