Christians have been urged to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and combine efforts to fight against genocide ideology.
The call was made by Fr Ubald Rugirangoga, of Mushaka Parish in Cyangugu Diocese, during a Mass for ‘forgiveness’ organised by the Catholic Church’s Regina Pacis Parish Remera at the Amahoro National Stadium, yesterday.
The mass also aimed at commemorating the victims of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Rugirangoga said, in Rwanda, people followed Jesus’ call in different ways.
“If we are many Christians in Rwanda and don’t combine efforts to fight against genocide and its ideology, let’s change our name because we are no longer Christians, because Jesus wants us to trust him as a good shepherd that we should all follow,” he said.
Speaking about the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, Rugirangoga urged Genocide perpetrators to seek forgiveness as well as for survivors to forgive.
“The key is held by the survivors. Forgiveness is a special gift, I wish all people could have the hearts of forgiveness,” he said.
Rugirangoga urged Christians to overcome ethnic ideology and build on the Rwandan spirit.
“God created the people in His image but people created ethnic groups. It is through this ideology that devils pass and cause people to sin. So let’s put it down and seek Jesus’ mercy by embracing Ndi Umunyarwanda,” he said, urging the congregation to embody truthfulness.
He said history should be well understood, noting that the Catholic Church did wrong during the Genocide.
“This is the truth that we should not confuse, when you sway the wrong way you need to go back and seek the right path. So we need to understand the truth and help people reconcile through forgiveness,” Rugirangoga urged.
Speaking to The New Times after the mass, Fidele Ndayisaba, the executive secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission, hailed the initiative of the mass, saying that through forgiveness people are relieved of mental scars of the Genocide.
“It was seen that these scars threatened unity and reconciliation journey, so the more Rwandans are relieved of these scars, the more unity and reconciliation is achieved. This mass helps Genocide survivors be relieved of mental wounds and achieve some semblance of heart healing,” he said, adding that it helps Genocide perpetrators to confess about their sins.
“The prayer relieves them from the humiliation of their wrong deeds to seek for forgiveness as well as integration into society freely. Both Genocide survivors and perpetrators benefit from this prayer and decide on common ground by promoting peace,” he added.
Ndayisaba urged all churches to help Rwandans understand the ‘Ubunyarwanda pact,’ which should guide them all the time.
During the mass, Genocide survivor Claudette Mukamurenzi and perpetrator Claude Ntambara from Bugesera District gave testimonies of how they managed to embrace forgiveness through healing and social cohesion programmes.
“My advice to former genocide perpetrators is to embrace healing and social cohesion programmes. I understand you might have completed your jail terms but this could also be an important step in your life,” Ntambara urged Genocide perpetrators.