22 years later, the Catholic Church apologises for role in Genocide

Rwandans have waited for over two decades and finally, the Catholic Church in Rwanda, through the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda has issued an apology over the role played by the clergy in the 1994
Genocide against the Tutsi.


In a letter on which the nine bishops heading all the dioceses in the country, the clerics also apologized for the role played by the church members in the Genocide in which over a million innocent lives were
murdered.


“We, the Catholic clerics in particular, apologise, again, for some of the church members, clerics, people who dedicated themselves to serveGod and Christians in general who played a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi,” reads the statement that was meant to be read in all homilies for Sunday November 20 2016.


Though some had endeavored to read the communiqué to their respective congregations, it emerged that some had not read it on that day.
The bishops, led by Phillipe Rukamba, the chairperson of the conference, unanimously stated that Christians committed a great harm to humanity and calls for prayers so that God changes their hearts,
help them repent and reconcile with the survivors and open up to tell the truth to be forgiven.
“We (clerics) apologise for all Christians due to various crimes we committed, we are saddened by the fact that some of our followers ignored the vow with God through baptism and ignored God’s
commandments,” it adds.


“We apologise for all hate sins and divisions that were created in our country to the level that we hated our compatriots based on ethnicity. We ask for forgiveness that very often we did not show that we are just one family and people turned to their colleagues to kill, looted
their properties and dehumanised them,” it adds.


For several decades, the Catholic Church in Rwanda is on record, right from the days of missionaries, being at the centre of divisions that provided the needed infrastructure to facilitate the massacres of
Tutsis right from the post independence Rwanda. During the Genocide against the Tutsi, hundreds of thousands of believers, under a misguided faith of seeking refuge in the House of God and thinking they would get protection from the clergy, were left to die, most in the most inhumane ways.
Several priests did not only give away their frock to the marauding militiamen, they actually took part in the massacres and as a result, several churches across the country have been turned into memorial
sites.
A case in point is Athanase Seromba, a priest who was sentenced to life by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda for the atrocities he committed against the people who had sought refuge at
his church at Nyange in the current Ngororero District.


Infamously, he brought a bulldozer that razed the church in which thousands of Tutsis were sheltered, killing them all. This is one among many atrocities committed by men of the robe, and while some have been brought to book, others, like the notorious Wenceslas Munyeshyaka remain scot free, him in particular continuing his pastoral work in France.

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