The Vatican

Pope Francis welcomes Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during a private audience at the Vatican on March 20. (Tony Gentile / Associated Press)

Associated Press

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.

During the 100-day genocide, over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists.

Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns, according to some accounts by survivors, and the Rwandan government says many died in the churches where they had sought refuge.

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