Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s “sins” in Mexico, in a letter published Monday to mark the 200th anniversary of the country’s independence from Spain.

“Both my predecessors and I have asked for forgiveness for personal and social sins, for all actions or omissions that did not contribute to evangelization,” said the message read by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador at his daily news conference.

“To strengthen roots it is necessary … to recognize the mistakes made in the past that have been very painful,” it said.

Actions in more recent times that went against Christian beliefs had also caused “profound suffering” in the predominantly Catholic nation, the letter noted.

Lopez Obrador has asked the Spanish government and the Vatican several times to apologize for the wrongs committed during the conquest and evangelization in Mexico.

The Catholic Church has also faced several pedophilia scandals in Mexico in recent years.

At least 175 children were sexually assaulted between 1941 and 2019 by priests belonging to the Legionaries of Christ, an ultra-conservative Mexican branch of the Catholic Church, according to an internal report published in 2019.

The pope’s letter said that it was necessary to learn from past wrongs “and continue taking steps in order to heal the wounds, to cultivate an open and respectful dialogue.”