KIGALI Rwanda (Xinhua) --
Pope Francis Monday conveyed his profound
sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the
1994 genocide against the Tutsi, asking for an apology that is
likely to reshape relations between Rwanda and the Vatican.
A statement from the
Vatican released on Monday said the pope expressed his
solidarity with the [genocide] victims and with those who
continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events.
“He 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,” according to the statement.
During the genocide
Hutu extremists in Rwanda targeted minority ethnic Tutsis and
moderate Hutus in a three month bloodbath.
priests were in 2001 indicted by the defunct UN International
Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for their role in the genocide.
Rwandan Catholic Priest Athanse Seromba who was handed 15 years
in prison in 2006, later increased to life imprisonment, for his
active participation in the massacre of around 2,000 Tutsis who
sought protection in his church in western Rwanda.
criticized the Catholic Church in the past for its failure to
apologize for its complicity in the killings.
But Kagame on his
tweeter handle Monday described the meeting with Pope Francis as
a great day.
and meeting with Pope Francis...a new chapter in relations btwn
Rw& Catholic church/Holy See,” he said.
Last year, the
Catholic Church in Rwanda apologized for its members’ role in
the genocide that saw close to one million people killed in
1994, in a statement read after mass in parishes across the
country last November.
statement Monday said the Pope also expressed the desire that
this humble recognition of the failings of that
period-disfigured face of the Church may contribute to a
“purification of memory.”
It may also promote
a future of peace, and possibility of living and working
together, the statement added.
meeting was characterized by a spirit of openness and mutual
respect. 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,”
Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said in a separate
Kagame and the Pope
meanwhile also had an exchange of views about the political,
social and regional situation, with attention to those places
that are suffering conflicts and natural calamities, according
to the statement.