RE: “Take Catholic Church apology with a pinch of salt” (The New Times, November 22).
As I noted in an earlier post, an apology – to be considered sincere and genuine – must be direct. It must be requested by the person or persons that recognise their actions/failure to act was the (a) cause of the harm, and be accompanied by an equally sincere request to know from the injured party what needs to be done to make amends.
A communiqué in which the Catholic Church – the most influential institution (more powerful than even the various successive governments in Rwanda from the late 1910s to 1994) – attempts to shunt blame onto the shoulders of individual clerics and laity for the Church’s own institutional role and responsibility on the Genocide against the Tutsi will not work.
For the Church’s responsibility goes beyond the 1994 Genocide – it encompasses its central role in the sowing of the divisionism at the root of the Genocide, in assiduously watering the hatreds that allowed the genocidal ideology to bloom, in blessing the decisions of its prelates, clergy, nuns and laity to be involved in planning, organising for, preparing the ground for the genocide, in helping its execution by allowing its churches all across the country to be turned by its priests into mass abattoirs of innocent Rwandans.
The victims include the littlest children (even the unborn pulled from their mothers’ wombs), in doing all it then could using its considerable global power to shield its guilty agents-cum prelates, clergy, nuns, and laity and to then help to develop and bring to fruition a Church-affiliated venomous denialist and revisionist (the 8th and last stage of genocide) global network and movement to deny, trivialise or to inverse the roles of perpetrators and victims of the Genocide against Rwanda’s Tutsi it had actively abetted.
Forgiveness can only be possible when the guilty makes a good faith effort to seek it. And the essential first step is a sincere recognition by the guilty of its full role in the act for which forgiveness is sought. The Church’s so-called apology (in reality no more than an apologia of its long-held though entirely false position of its own innocence) does not represent a genuine apology.
You cannot apologise for a third party. If the Church believes itself to be blameless, then it has no reason to apologise and seek forgiveness.
Of course, many Rwandans, including myself, believe the institution is guilty of both acts of commission and omission. We also believe its ingrained arrogance continues to hobble it from reaching for the humility required for it to offer a genuine apology and to seek forgiveness.
And yet, without that, it will never recover the moral authority – if it ever did given its complicity with colonial domination – to propagate moral values in this country.
Without a genuine, sincere apology and forgiveness from the many Rwandans injured by the Church’s role, the Genocide will remain an albatross around its reputation and a barrier to the Church’s role as a moral authority.