MONTREAL (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of Rwanda asked forgiveness for Catholics’ role in the 1994 genocide in which more than 800,000 people — mostly ethnic Tutsis — were killed.
The letter was published to coincide with the end of the Jubilee of Mercy. All the bishops in the country signed the three-page document, which was read in every church Nov. 20.
Written in Kinyarwanda, it should soon be translated in English and French, Rwanda’s other official languages.
In 14 points, the bishops ask forgiveness for the role that some members of the Catholic Church played during the genocide, especially for the pastors that “sowed seeds of hate,” said French Catholic newspaper La Croix.
Criticized for its proximity with the Hutu regime at that time, priests and religious are still facing justice for what they did before and during the genocide. However, Catholic authorities, both in Rome and in Kigali, have always said that they never ordered killings.
Bishop Philippe Rukamba of Butare, president of the Rwandese bishops’ conference, told Radio France Internationale that forgiveness was mostly asked for all Christians involved in the genocide, not so much for the church as an institution.
During the 1994 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops, St. John Paul II spoke out against the violence that started after the attack on the plane carrying the presidents of both Rwanda and Burundi. For the centenary of the Rwandese church in 2001, bishops from all of the country’s nine dioceses expressed regrets. At that time, many deemed these apologies were not enough.
Bishop Rukamba also told RFI that the bishops of Rwanda would again ask forgiveness in 2019, for the genocide’s 25th anniversary.
From April to July 1994, between 800,000 and 1 million Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed. Some massacres occurred in churches.
Vaillancourt is editor of Presence info in Montreal.
In a time to build, CatholicPhilly.com connects people and communities
As society emerges from the loss and separation of the pandemic, CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you join in our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103