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VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has begged forgiveness 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 Monday with President Paul Kagame, the Vatican acknowledged that some Catholic priests and nuns "succumbed to hatred and violence, betraying their own evangelical mission."

The Vatican said Francis 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."

The Vatican's statement followed an official apology issued last year by Rwanda's Catholic bishops.

AP

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