Sequel to The Catholic Church’s plea for forgiveness in Rwanda last year, for the part played by some of its members, who it said had fanned the ethnic hatred that led to the killings in Rwanda in 1994, Pope Francis has again asked for forgiveness for the “sins and failings of the Church and its members”  saying the violence had “disfigured the face” of the Roman Catholic Church.

In a meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame at the Vatican, Francis said he hoped his apology would help promote peace in the African country, which was torn apart by genocide in 1994, and contribute to a “purification of memory”.

The 1994 genocide had seen scenes where people who sought refuge in churches had been killed by militias. Some 800,000 people from the ethnic Tutsi minority as well as moderates from the Hutu majority were massacred in the 1994 genocide. Kagame, a Tutsi, led a rebel force to halt the slaughter.

The Vatican said  the pope had “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 Rwandan government called Francis’ meeting with Kagame a “positive step forward”.

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