Genocide Culpability Deserves Pope Benedict XVI’s Apology - At a Minimum

On Monday 29, March 2010 the Guardian published Martin Kimani’s article with a title: “For Rwandans, the pope’s apology must be unbearable: If sexual abuse in Ireland warrants his contrition, what contempt is shown by the Vatican’s silence over its role in genocide”.
L-R : Ferdinand Nahimana ; Leon Mugesera
L-R : Ferdinand Nahimana ; Leon Mugesera

On Monday 29, March 2010 the Guardian published Martin Kimani’s article with a title: “For Rwandans, the pope’s apology must be unbearable: If sexual abuse in Ireland warrants his contrition, what contempt is shown by the Vatican’s silence over its role in genocide”.

Martin appropriately said: “This turning away from the Rwandan victims of genocide comes at a time when the Catholic Church is increasingly peopled by black and brown believers.

It is difficult not to conclude the church’s upper reaches are desperately holding on to a fast-vanishing racial patrimony. Perhaps it is time Catholics forced the leaders of their church to deal with a history of institutional racism that endures, if the church is truly to live up to its fine words.

Apologies are not sufficient, no matter how abject. What is demanded is an acknowledgment of the church’s political power and moral culpability, with all the material and legal implications that come with it.”

There is a priest who ordered a bulldozer to collapse the walls of his church onto the almost two thousand men, women and children who were desperately trying to survive the killings in 1994. 

That man is Father Athanase Seromba, a Catholic priest. 
On 12 March 2008 the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) imposed a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of Seromba’s life.

Thus quashing the 15 years in prison he had been given on December 13, 2006, by a Trial Chamber that found him guilty of genocide as well as extermination as a crime against humanity, by virtue of his role in the destruction of the church in Nyange Parish.

The Appeals Chamber described Seromba’s crimes as “egregious in scale and inhumanity.”

This Chamber stressed that “this priest knew that approximately 1,500 refugees were in the church and  that  they were bound to die or be seriously injured as a consequence of his approval that the church be bulldozed, knowing that the refugees had come to the church seeking safety.”

Despite such findings which were in the public domain through the investigation of both African Rights and Human Rights Watch, Seromba still managed to continue being a priest for seven years in the Diocese of Florence, Italy using the false name of Anastasio Sumba Bura. 

The leadership of this Diocese had full knowledge of this falsehood.  This is clear if only because the Catholic Church keeps meticulous records. 

It is hardly credible that it would allow a priest to preach without looking deeply into his background.  Especially, knowing that many of its members stood accused of participating in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

In 2004, the United Nations declared April 7th a day of reflection on the Tutsi genocide and of solidarity with the survivors.

The same year, which was the 10th commemoration of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda, Father Peter Hans KOLVENBACH, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, (Jesuits) published a book titled: Faubourg du Saint-Esprit (Suburb of the Holy Spirit). 

In his position, of the highest authority of The Society of Jesus the book was the denial, justification and legitimating of genocide as an act of revenge.

He invokes the language of genocide ideologues, accusing the Tutsi of being “a minority” and “a long time dominating group” “coming from abroad.” The genocide is “parishioners… killed one another …” and that “the Hutu took revenge against the Tutsi.”

This revenge was the result of the imbalance of the social and political situation in 1994, which he says, was the same as the one in Iraq before the 2003 war, whereby the minority Sunnis dominated the Shiites majority”.

Those same Hutus, after their “revenge,” which ended up exterminating a million of their fellow citizens, Kolvenbach emphasised, would be “ready for reconciliation”, even if this reconciliation “comes to confirm Tutsis’ domination.”

Kolvenbach’s is not an ordinary priest. The Superior General of Jesuits, whose authority and influence in the Vatican earns him a name the “black pope”.

His order is the “largest male religious order of the Catholic Church” wielding command of a multitude of prestigious academic institutions worldwide. 

If this Superior of the society of Jesus was to be on the panel of judges in the case of Seromba or any genocidaire, the verdict would be innocent, because there was no genocide but settling of scores with enough mitigating factors.

After all, in his book he says his Church was on the side of the oppressed—the Hutu. What the “black pope” says is genocide denial.

This Catholic Church’s solidarity with “Hutu Power” ideology, as Kolvenbach confirms it, dates back to 1957 with the publication of the infamous “Bahutu Manifesto” the fulcrum of Rwanda’s genocide machinery.

According to historians, Ian Linden and Jean Gaulbert Rumiya, the manifesto, though signed by Rwandans including Grégoire Kayibanda was written under the guidance of White Catholic priests Chanoine Ernotte and Arthur Dejemeppe.

Jean-Pierre Chretien writes: “the manifesto was made popular among Hutus through the Catholic structures.”
What the Bahutu Manifesto revealed was the intellectual roots of the Rwandan genocide. The first intellectuals Rwanda had, were Catholic priests, or lay people trained by the Catholic Church. 

Academics and other intellectuals have been at the forefront of genocide promotion not only in Rwanda but elsewhere in places where mass murder has followed from politics. 

Academicians, like Kolvenbach, Ferdinand Nahimana, and Leon Mugesera for instance have been accomplices or tools of genocidal conspiracies.

They may not do the actual killing, but their contributions are every bit as important as that of the blood stained killer, if not more so.

According to what Eric Markusen says of academics: “They often play a role in the ideological rationalisation for genocide, using their scholarly credentials and influence to support the accusations against the victim group and to justify discrimination and persecution.”

Through propaganda, genocidal ideology is promulgated and genocidal mentality articulated.

To be continued.



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