The horrific genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was sadly distant from the Roman Catholic Church's finest hour. As many as a million people were brutally slaughtered in a spectacular outburst of tribal bloodletting. Church officials were not only complicit, but in some cases directly responsible for specific acts of violence.
Last year, Rwanda's Catholic bishops apologized for this on behalf of the local church.
In March, Pope Francis followed suit, apologizing in the name of the global church.
So April 7 was the anniversary of the day in 1994 when the Rwandan genocide began. In Rwanda, it's the start of a three-month period that the government has dedicated to memorializing the dead -- as well as to try and insure that the nation never again experiences a similar depravity.
Naturally, that sparks an annual mini-boom of stories by international media about Rwandan efforts at national reconciliation. The New York Times entry this year was this piece on one such effort run by evangelical Christians.
I'll return to the Times piece below. But first let's take a closer look at current and past Catholic involvement in Rwanda because of the church's great relevancy to the Central African nation, and because it's entirely overlooked in this new Times news feature.
The top of this Catholic News Service (CNS) story on the pope's apology sets the stage nicely. This is long, but important:
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.