Pope Francis last week took the bull by the horns, literally. He signed a Papal Bull (decree) declaring a holy year that begins on December 8.
He called upon his clergy to turn the church into an “oasis of mercy” and not a reclusive merciless fortress out of touch with the people. During the period, every cathedral will keep open a “door of mercy”.
He should have been Pope in 1994, then, maybe, he would have reined in his renegade priests, who instead of saving souls, took them with a slash of machetes and even brought down a church crumbling on thousands using a bulldozer. The church had been a sanctuary for those fleeing the Genocide against the Tutsi.
To date, many priests and nuns are behind bars while others were exfiltrated out of the country, usually using Church affiliated networks.
For many years, the Catholic Church lived in self denial; it distanced itself from the murderous actions of its clergy preferring to apportion individual blame. But that can only satisfy the uninitiated.
Ever since the colonial period, the Church in Rwanda was synonymous with political leadership, it had the final say in whatever national decisions.
Had it put its foot down, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi would not have occurred, neither would have its errant clergy had the courage to trample on God’s commandment on the sanctity of life.
There is a time when it becomes unbearable to live with old ghosts and skeletons in the cupboard. But Pope Francis’ Bull gives the Church a window of opportunity, to discard its heavy baggage and open its door of mercy and atonement.
This holy year would be the right occasion for the faithful to atone and seek forgiveness.