Churches move to mend image

Church leaders under PEACE Plan, the umbrella of Purpose-Driven Ministries, Rwanda Chapter, have adopted resolutions acknowledging blame for past transgressions of some clerics in Rwanda’s history.
Bishop Mbonyintege of the Roman Catholic Church.
Bishop Mbonyintege of the Roman Catholic Church.

Church leaders under PEACE Plan, the umbrella of Purpose-Driven Ministries, Rwanda Chapter, have adopted resolutions acknowledging blame for past transgressions of some clerics in Rwanda’s history.

Bishop Smaradge Mbonyintege, the spokesperson of the Catholic Church, presented a summary of the ‘Musanze Declaration’ at a news conference called to brief journalists on the upcoming thanksgiving ceremony dubbed “Rwanda Shima Imana” on Thursday evening in Kigali.

Mbonyintege said some clerics had acted in a manner inconsistent with Christian faith and that acknowledging blame for the Church’s involvement in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi would facilitate the healing process.

“We are not saying that we committed genocide, we are simply shouldering blame for those few individuals who participated in the Genocide and  together, as a family of God, ask forgiveness on their behalf,” Mbonyintege said.

The “Musanze Declaration” was agreed to by all heads of  Rwandan churches during a retreat that took place  from April 9 to 11.

The declaration chronicles the role of churches in the country’s history, and highlights the commitment of the current religious leaders to redeeming the Church’s name.

 “Even though several churches are accused of colluding with the genocidal government in fermenting ethnic divisions, the current Church had not come out in union to acknowledge its participation in the Genocide and help unite Rwandans,” reads the declaration in part.

 “To all Genocide survivors and all those affected by the Genocide, we ask for forgiveness, for not having cared enough not perceiving your pain as ours.”  

Paul Gitwaza, the head of Zion Temple, who doubles as the head of Peace Plan, Rwanda Chapter, said the move to acknowledge the responsibilities of the former church leaders in the country’s dark history was geared at helping rebuild a “new legacy” for a united Rwanda.

“Biblically, Jesus died on the Cross for our sins. He was not a sinner. So assuming responsibilities of some few church leaders who participated in the Genocide does not turn us into perpetrators but rather peace seekers,” Gitwaza said.

Peace Plan is a brain child of renown American evangelist Pastor Rick Warren. It involves mobilisation of church members to carry out tasks that transform society.

The association brings together Christian churches to promote reconciliation, assist the poor, care for the sick and educate the next generation in order to build a positive Church and nation.

The Christian movement will be organising a series of activities to discuss the Musanze Declaration.

The activities, under theme; “New Legacy” will also include the 3rd annual national evangelical thanks giving celebration, commonly known as Rwanda Shima Imana on  August 17 at the Amahoro stadium.

 The crusade is a national evangelical celebration aimed at thanking God for enabling Rwanda emerge out of the abyss  into the country it is today. 

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