A total of 166 Catholic faithful at Nyamata Parish regained their right to holy sacraments, including Eucharist, Baptism (for their children) and Marriage, after they confessed and asked for forgiveness for their crimes committed during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
This follows a heart healing course for cleansing undertaken by the group from July 1, 2016.
However, speaking during the event on Sunday, Nyamata Parish head priest Emmanuel Nsengiyumva noted that the number of those who expressed remorse and apologised is still low given the magnitude of Genocide in Bugesera District.
He said there were 252 Genocide perpetrators who underwent the healing course, but 86 did not fulfill all the requirements to regain the sacraments.
“These courses are very demanding in terms of both spiritual and physical aspects,” he said, adding that the perpetrators had to go and express remorse and ask for forgiveness from living relatives of Genocide victims.
Genocide survivors appreciated the heart healing programme and suggested it is rolled out to other churches.
They said the programme is a true way to achieve true unity and reconciliation.
The Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Fidèle Ndayisaba, called on religious organisations to embrace unity and reconciliation through truth so as to contribute to national unity and development.
He supported the idea of extending the progamme to other religious organisations in the country.
“This initiative is an effective move towards sustaining the achievements of Gacaca jurisdiction [courts] which sought to achieve justice through truth and eradication of impunity,” he said.
Fr Ubald Rugirangoga, who initiated the Heart Healing programme, said in 1994 clerics failed in their role of guiding the flock to prevent them from participating in ethnic killing.
“Some priests fled the country and they are leaving abroad but, they will not be peaceful until they repatriate and do the same we are doing – uniting and reconciling Rwandans after their social fabric was split apart,” he said.
“Kindness should prevail over evil. Love is a prerequisite for the success of this country.”
Bugesera becomes the third parish in the country to witness the graduation of former Genocide perpetrators who have confessed for their crimes and asked for forgiveness – after Musha Parish and Ntendezi Parish both located in Cyangungu Diocese in Western Province.
The Heart Healing was initiated in 2008 at Mushaka Parish.