Pope Francis begged forgiveness Monday for the “sins and failings of the church and its members” during Rwanda’s 1994 genocide and told Rwanda’s president that he hoped his apology would help the country heal.
In an extraordinary statement after Francis’ meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that some Catholic priests and nuns “succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission” by participating in the genocide….
The Vatican said Francis “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.”
A few months ago, Millennial writer Fabrice Musoni wrote about the need for the Church to apologize for its complicity in the genocide:
The inspirational, spiritual, political, and revolutionary leadership of Pope Francis offers optimism in this regard. In March 2014, the Holy See decided to set up a commission to “advise the church on the best policies to protect children, train church personnel and keep abusers out of the clergy,” and repair the Church’s reputational damage. The late Pope John Paul II acknowledged Catholic involvement in the persecution of the Jews in 2000, noting “the burden of guilt” that Christians bore “for the murder of the Jewish people.” Moreover, he made “a historic trip to Jerusalem, where he honored the victims of the Holocaust with a visit to Yad Vashem and prayed at the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism.” Therefore, an apology from the Vatican is a continuation of past and present commendable initiatives and would contribute significantly to reconciling the Catholic Church to Rwandans, particularly those who profess other faiths….
I know of many Rwandans who have forgiven neighbors who killed their family members during the genocide. These brave efforts are the cornerstone of reconciliation efforts in Rwanda. As a Catholic and a Rwandan, the Church’s leadership at home and abroad has a moral obligation to wholeheartedly apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the genocide and contribute to efforts aimed at bringing its perpetrators to justice.