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September 26, 2017

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Pope begs God's forgiveness for Catholic Church's sins in Rwandan genocide

Vatican City, Holy See -- Pope Francis on Monday begged for God's forgiveness for "the sins and failings of the Church and its members" implicated in the 1994 Rwanda genocide that killed around 800,000 people.

The pontiff "conveyed his profound sadness, and that of the Holy See and of the Church, for the genocide against the Tutsi," the Vatican said in a statement following a meeting between Francis and the Rwanda President Paul Kagame.

"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," it said.

Francis's pardon plea followed a request from Rwanda in November for the Vatican to apologize for the church's role in the massacres.

Since the genocide, whose victims were mostly from the Tutsi minority, the Catholic Church has been accused of being close to

the Hutu extremist regime

in power in 1994.

A number of churches became scenes of mass killings as Hutu militiamen found people seeking refuge there, sometimes turned over by the priests, with no way out.

Francis, 80, said he hoped "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 promote "renewed trust."

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