EDITORIAL: The Bugesera priest should know religious tolerance is inviolable

At the beginning it sounded like one of those rumours spread to spoil someone’s reputation, but it turned out not to be the case. But the truth was shocking nevertheless.

Up to now people are still wondering whether the Vicar of Bugesera Catholic Diocese had all his faculties together when he gave out the shocking decree.

Father Emmanuel Nsengyumva barred members of his diocese from attending weddings hosted by people of other religious beliefs without written permission. That shocker took everyone by surprise. The uproar it created was enormous and now the priest has backtracked and even apologised for people he “might have offended”.

The Catholic Church’s hierarchy should not just let it rest there, the priest in question committed a very serious offence that a mere “sorry” will not just wipe away.

Divisive politics are what brought this country to the brink of destruction. It is not a secret the role the leadership of the Catholic Church played in planting seeds of ethnic hatred and sustaining it. Rwanda is a secular state where all religions are free to practice within the confines of the law.

There is no religious discrimination, so the priest in Bugesera who is fanning religious intolerance has no mandate to rule on anything religion whatsoever. But his actions should serve as a warning shot that the message of unity and reconciliation that has been the hallmark of this countries policy has been lost on some people.

But on a more serious note, intolerance, whether religious or otherwise, should be treated seriously, especially if it is espoused by someone in a position to influence many people.

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