Jean Ndorimana, a Roman Catholic Brother, has criticised his church for alleged complicity in the Genocide against the Tutsi.
Addressing thousands of students and residents in Nyagatare District, on Thursday, Ndorimana said despite clear signs that a genocide was in the pipeline, the Church remained silent.
A religious brother is a catholic who commits to following Jesus Christ by the vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience.
Ndorimana, from Butare parish in Huye District, made the remarks during an event to mark the 21st anniversary of the Genocide at the University of Rwanda–College of Agriculture, Animal Services and Veterinary Medicine ( Mutara campus).
He told the mourners that the Catholic Church’s “role in the Genocide was regrettable.
“The Church and government were inseparable. The Church served as adviser to the government. In fact, there was a committee of clergymen that coordinated political activities of the ruling party–MRND,” said the clergyman.
He said that it was this committee that approved the extremist political grouping, Coalition for the Defence of the Republic (CDR), to be recognised as a political party.
Created in 1992, CDR comprised extremist Hutu politicians and used virulently anti-Tutsi rhetoric.
Ndorimana has authored several books critical of the Catholic Church’s role during the Genocide.
“In the former Gikongoro Prefecture, Christians were picked up after mass and taken to Nyungwe Forest where they were murdered. This was organised by some well known church leaders,” said Ndorimana, urging reforms within the Catholic Church.
“I have not deserted the Church, but I totally disagree with its attitude during the Genocide and its relationship with the perpetrators.”
Ndorimana said his life is in danger because of speaking out the truth about the Church’s role in the Genocide.
“I have received multiple threats because of what I say and what I have written. I don’t care if I die, my mother was killed at the age of 80 yet she knew nothing about the politics,” he said.
No reconciliation process
Ndorimana further claimed that the Church has failed to use its clout to help Christians sail through the unity and reconciliation process.
He said individual church leaders, who were involved in the Genocide should have been excommunicated and denied the sacrament, but this has never been done.
Thousands of Tutsi who sought sanctuary in Church premises around the country were slaughtered from there.
However, when contacted, Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege, the president of the Episcopal Council of the Catholic Church, refuted the claims, saying that Ndorimana should rather speak out about the circumstances that compelled him to leave the Church.
“The fact that he left the Church unceremoniously shows that his claims are baseless. The truth is that the Catholic Church did not take part in the Genocide. It’s individuals who belonged to the Catholic faith that participated in the killing and we have continuously insisted that such people should be prosecuted,” Mbonyintege said.