More than half of Rwandans are Catholic faithful while the Church is also a major partner in provision of social services such as education and healthcare, owning a significant number of schools and health facilities nationwide.
The influence of the Catholic Church in Rwanda goes as far back into colonial times with the Church leadership at the time at the heart of shaping politics that would define the country for many decades.
Unfortunately, past regimes used the Church as a force of destructive, turning it into a major conduit for entrenching extremist ideologies and politics of exclusion and hate that culminated into the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Indeed, many clerics abandoned their sacred calling by immersing themselves in the bloodbath and helped turn many places of worship into killing fields.
That was the ugliest side of the Church, an integral part of this country’s darkest chapter.
But we have since turned a page and the Church has not been left behind.
Today, the Church is actively involved with efforts designed to protect the people – both its followers and other citizens and residents of Rwanda.
The latest such effort came in the form of a campaign by the Rwanda National Police, dubbed ‘Gerayo Amahoro’ (loosely translated to mean ‘safe journey’), aimed at boosting road safety.
On Sunday, RNP took the campaign to the Church, with prelates and parishioners across the country listening from and interacting with officers who brought messages of responsible road usage.
The sight of uniformed police officers attending mass in churches and delivering road safety messages to congregants was a welcome sign of the positive role the Church is playing today, a far cry from its former self.
The Police says the ‘Gerayo Amahoro’ campaign has reduced deaths resulting from road accidents by over 40 per cent over the last few months, and enlisting the support of the Church can only further improve the situation.
According to statistics, at least 80 per cent of road accidents are caused by indiscipline of road users, such as drink-driving, use of phones while driving, speeding, and loose helmets, and are therefore avoidable.
In Catholic Church, the Rwanda National Police has found a fitting partner in its campaign to bring about behaviour change on our roads and we applaud both parties on this important collaboration.