KIGALI, NOVEMBER 22, 2016 (CISA) – Catholic bishops in Rwanda have issued an apology for the role played by Christians in the 1994 genocide in which nearly one million ethnic Tutsis and Hutus were killed.
The apology issued by the Rwanda Conference of Catholic Bishops on November 20 was read out in parishes across the country in the local Kinyarwanda dialect, reported CNA.
“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,” read the statement.
According to the statement, some Catholics planned, assisted, and executed the genocide in which Hutu extremists killed over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
Clergy members were included in the ranks of both perpetrators and victims. In some cases, Hutu priests, bishops and religious helped to hide and protect Tutsis.
In other cases, they took up arms against them. They ushered victims into church buildings with false promises of security and then trapped and betrayed them, facilitating their massacre.
“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 bishops said.
The statement was timed to coincide with the formal end of the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis to encourage greater reconciliation and forgiveness in the Church and in the world, said Bishop Phillipe Rukamba, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Rwanda.
The genocide began April 7, 1994 after controversy over the plane crash that killed Juvénal Habyarimana then-president of Rwanda.
About 57 percent of Rwanda is Catholic, with another 37 percent Protestant or Seventh – day Adventist. The churches have worked to bring about healing and reconciliation as well.