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Pope apologizes for Catholics’ participation in Rwanda genocide

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — 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.

Pope Francis poses with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his wife, Jeannette, during a private March 20 private meeting at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, pool via EPA)

Pope Francis poses with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and his wife, Jeannette, during a private March 20 private meeting at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, pool via EPA)

“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.

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Abessinios create $1 million matching-gift fund for Catholic Charities

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Donations to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Wilmington can be worth twice as much until July 15.

Catholic Charities announced April 20 that the Abessinio Family Foundation will match up to $1 million in contributions to the St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities during the next three months.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio have pledged $1 million matching gift fund for do nationals to Catholic Charities until July 15.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio have pledged $1 million matching gift fund for do nationals to Catholic Charities until July 15.

Rocco and Mary Abessinio, who received Catholic Charities’ Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award April 15, said they pledged the dollar-for-dollar matching gift in gratitude for the award and in honor of Charities’ 185th anniversary.

“We are thrilled to benefit from the generosity of the Abessinio Family Foundation, and especially Rocco and Mary Abessinio,” said Richelle Vible, executive director of Catholic Charities. “Their desire to share their resources with the most vulnerable in our communities is truly inspiring.

“The St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities will match every donation made through July 15. Help Catholic Charities earn $1 million in matching funds,” Vible said.

Rocco Abessinio credited his devotion to St. Rocco as the inspiration for the couple’s creation of the fund. Born of nobility in the 14th century, St. Rocco followed the example of St. Francis of Assisi and distributed all his worldly goods among the poor.

The Abessinios told Catholic Charities they hope the matching-gift fund will inspire others to share their resources with the most vulnerable.

To make a gift to Catholic Charities online using a credit card, click here, or visit www.cdow.org/charities.html.

On the secure donation form, donors can click “Yes” to the question, “Do you want your gift to be doubled by the St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities to qualify your donation for the matching gift?”

Donors can also send a check to Catholic Charities at 2601 W. Fourth St., Wilmington, DE 19805. Please note St. Rocco Fund for Catholic Charities on the check memo line.

Donations to support Catholic Charities’ Basic Needs, Bayard House or Casa San Francisco programs may qualify organizations and individuals who pay Delaware state income taxes for tax credits. In exchange for a qualified contribution, the Neighborhood Assistance Act program provides state tax credits equal to 50 percent of the investment. For individuals, a qualified donation is $2,500; for businesses, the donation is $10,000.

Please call Catholic Charities at (302) 655-9624 to learn more about this option.

Each year, Catholic Charities helps more than 53,000 individuals stay in their homes with basic needs supports like rent and utility assistance, feeds 5,300 families, temporarily shelters 150 individuals, and counsels 1,000 individuals and families who need mental health services.

The agency offers a wide range of services to strengthen families, care for children, assist the disadvantaged, and build human relationships throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

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