Pope Francis has apologized for the “sins and failings” of the Roman Catholic Church during the Rwandan genocide in 1994. After meeting with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Rome on Monday, Pope Francis issued a statement expressing “profound sadness” for the killing of about 800,000 Tutsis at the hands of Hutu extremists. He asked for “God’s forgiveness” for “the sins and failings of the Church and its members” who “succumbed to hatred and violence” during the genocide. The Vatican had previously declined to take any responsibility for the crimes, though some massacres were carried out in Catholic churches with the complicity of priests and religious figures. Last fall, the Rwandan government officially asked for an apology from the Vatican, and it reiterated its disappointment in the church’s handling of the genocide ahead of Kagame’s meeting with Pope Francis on Monday. “Today, genocide denial and trivialisation continue to flourish in certain groups within the Church and genocide suspects have been shielded from justice within Catholic institutions,” the Rwandan government said. Kagame welcomed Pope Francis’s apology, however, praising it as the sign of a new era between Rwanda and the Vatican.