Twenty-two years after the horrendous civil war, Catholic Bishops have tendered an apology over the role of church members in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
The Rwandan genocide was targeted at the Tutsi tribe. It saw the death of an estimated 500,000-1,000,000 persons and about 2 million displaced Rwandans during the 100-day massacre period (April 7 to mid-July 1994).
The genocide dealt an indelible mark in the history of Rwanda.
According to Wikipedia, the perpetrators of the genocide came from the ranks of the Rwandan army, the Gendarmerie, government-backed militias including the Interahamwe and Impuzamugambi, as well as Catholic clergy and countless ordinary civilians.
On Sunday, the Catholic Church in Kigali, Rwanda apologized for the part the church played in the genocide, saying they regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres.
The conference of Catholic Bishops made an official statement of the apology which was read in all parishes across the country.
“We apologize for all the wrongs the church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated (their) oath of allegiance to God’s commandments.
“Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other.”
The statement admitted that church members planned, aided and executed the genocide; causing the death of over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and ‘moderate Hutus ‘ whom were killed by Hutu extremists.
Over time, the church had insisted that church members acted as individuals and did not represent the precepts of the Catholic church.
However with the close of the Year of Mercy in the Church’s calendar, the local church is finally taking responsibility for the actions of her members in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.
The statement is hoped to give a binding to the call of reconciliation in the country.
Tom Ndahiro, a Rwandan genocide researcher, says he was happy that the Catholic Bishops apologized “for not having been able to avert the genocide.” However he hopes the statement will encourage unity in Rwanda.