Catholic Courier

Posted: March 20, 2017

CNS photo by Tony Gentile, pool via EPA

Pope Francis accepts a gift from Rwandan President Paul Kagame during a private meeting at the Vatican.

Pope apologizes for Catholics' participation in Rwanda genocide

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Meeting Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Pope Francis asked God's forgiveness for the failures of the Catholic Church during the 1994 Rwanda genocide and for the hatred and violence perpetrated by some priests and religious.
"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," said a Vatican statement released March 20 after the meeting of the pope and president.
Some 800,000, and perhaps as many as 1 million people -- most of whom belonged to the Tutsi ethnic group -- died in the ferocious bloodshed carried out from April to July 1994.
"In light of the recent Holy Year of Mercy and of the statement published by the Rwandan Bishops at its conclusion" in November, the Vatican said, "the pope also 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, witnessing to the concrete possibility of living and working together once the dignity of the human person and the common good are put at the center."
Pope Francis "conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the church, for the genocide against the Tutsi," the Vatican said. "He expressed his solidarity with the victims and with those who continue to suffer the consequences of those tragic events."
In President Kagame's 25-minute private meeting with the pope, as well as during his meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, note was made of "the collaboration between the state and the local church in the work of national reconciliation and in the consolidation of peace for the benefit of the whole nation," the Vatican said.
In a statement read in churches throughout Rwanda Nov. 20, the country's bishops apologized for "all the wrongs the church committed" during the genocide. "We regret that church members violated their oath of allegiance to God's commandments" and that some Catholics were involved in planning, aiding and carrying out the massacres.


The Church would benefit from structural and intrinsic reformation, everywhere in the world. What happened in Rwanda can occur anywhere. The truth will set us free to live the Gospel call to love our neighbors. Jesus is the Truth, the Way, the Life. Thank you, Pope Francis, for this humble and truthful self-evaluation of the Church in Rwanda. The history of the Church has many "Rwanda" experiences in which the mandate to love God and love neighbor has been a failure. God is love, always, everywhere!
March 21, 2017, 8:48 AM
Robert Martino Sr.
The Catholic Church owes no one an apology. The Church is one, HOLY, catholic and apostolic. The Second Vatican Council put it this way: The Church, whose mystery is being set forth by this Sacred Synod, is believed to be indefectibly holy. Indeed Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as "uniquely holy," loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God's glory (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church #39, also stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #823). As related in the article: “Pope Francis asked God's forgiveness for the failures of the Catholic Church….” "He implored anew God's forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church….” Although of good will, Pope Francis’s sentiments were misdirected, as has the sentiments of other Popes and other Catholics who has apologized for “the Church.” The Church exists in three “parts”: The Church Triumphant (in Heaven), the Church Suffering (in Purgatory) and the Church Militant which we are in. The Catechism of Trent declared that: The Church militant is composed of two classes of persons, the good and the bad, both professing the same faith and partaking of the same Sacraments, yet differing in their manner of life and morality. The Second Vatican Council explained the matter like this: To the extent that they [believers]neglect their own training in the faith, or teach erroneous doctrine, or are deficient in their religious, moral or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than reveal the authentic face of God and religion (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World #19), It also appears in the Catechism of the Catholic Church #2125). His Holiness should have spoken only about “bad Catholics”/those who “are deficient in their religious, moral or social life.” The sins that Pope Francis spoke about have to do with bad Catholics not God’s Church per se. Even so, how can a person who is not guilty apologize for others who are; how can doing so be efficacious? Acknowledgement—to acknowledge the wrongs that others have committed is not only right but is also realistic. One thing that is to be understood is that there have always been professing Catholics who have done bad things. Oh my Lord—at first, there were not more than twelve men and a few women who claimed to be followers of Jesus, when one of the men betrayed him, and ten others ran from him, only John and the women remained (happily the ten men repented; unfortunately, the other one killed himself). Read the New Testament, it’s riddled with “believers” causing trouble—time and time again. This is how it has been, and shall remained until the time comes when “The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:41-43). The Church owes no one an apology but a lot of Catholics did—and do. A note: I have mentioned the Catechism of Trent which was the result of the Ecumenical Council of Trent (1545-1563). I know that some would be incredulous at this, while falsely thinking that the Second Ecumenical Council somehow negated the Council of Trent, or something of the sort—no such thing happened (or could happen) as Vatican II proclaimed: What we have seen and heard we announce to you, so that you may have fellowship with us and our common fellowship be with the Father and His Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:2-3). Therefore, following in the footsteps of the Council of Trent and of the First Vatican Council, this present council wishes to set forth authentic doctrine on divine revelation and how it is handed on… (Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation #1). Peace be with you.
March 22, 2017, 5:53 AM
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