An apology is enough
A certain Father Athanase Seromba of Nyange Parish led 2000 desperate children, women and men to the church for protection but suddenly turned against them with the Hutu militia.
This is just one out of many incidences where the church instead of being a good shepherd, became a wolf that hunted sheep during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsis.
The fact is that the Catholic Church had a hand or two in the massacre of people who thought that they would find safe harbor in the house of God. Instead of protecting the innocent people and heeding to the sixth commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, these ‘men and women of God’ alerted the men with the machetes to finish up the job.
Once, I asked a religious leader how the Catholic Church would successfully be reconciled to the Rwandan people after its bizarre involvement in the 1994 genocide against the Tutsis.
His answer was that, all institutions in Rwanda failed to protect the Tutsis during that time. It wasn’t just the Catholic Church but the government, the police, the army, the ministries and even the press.
So after the genocide, all institutions were revolutionalised so that they can serve Rwandans as they ought to, the Catholic Church as well. In other words, if other institutions have already moved on and reconciled to the people, why shouldn’t the Catholic Church?
The church is currently involved in quite a number of activities and projects aimed at improving the lives of genocide survivors such as looking after orphans and widows, so, looking at things as they are, the church’s deeds and works show how changed they are, how sorry they are for the events.
The idea of seeking for an apology from the Pope is to me far fetched. What happened already happened. Whether the Pope acknowledges that the Catholic Church was wrong or not, is not a more basic issue than the real projects on ground—actions speak louder than words.
The pope has apologized for the Irish child sex abuse, apologized for the Holocaust, but not a mention of the genocide in Rwanda against the Tutsis as was expected by lots of media houses.
Personally, I don’t wish the genocide to be used for media hype and for personal recognition. The world at large looked on as if they were cuffed and numb while the massacres went on. No one came to the rescue of the endangered people save for the Rwandese Patriotic Front (RPF). If it hadn’t been for the RPF, things could have been worse.
So, if the pope doesn’t want to apologize, don’t force him. The catholic leaders in our community have already apologized.
As a matter of fact, Pope Benedict wasn’t the pope in 1994. If Pope John II didn’t apologize yet he is the one who was around, why should we expect an apology from Benedict to hold a lot of meaning?
The Rwandan Catholic society has accepted their role in the genocide and has already apologized. To me that’s what counts. Whether the pope apologizes or he doesn’t, it’s not as significant as our own people learning to work and live together once again.