Deliberate abandonment

Prere is mounting on Rwanda's Catholic Church: its recent apology for its members' involvement in the 1994 genocide has been rejected by the government in Kigali.

Last week, nine bishops in the East African country had apologized for the first time for the involvement of clergy in the ethnic massacres, in which up to 800.000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were murdered by Hutu militias. Many people were also killed in places of worship where they had taken refuge. They were partly handed over by priests or religious to their persecutors. According to local media reports, prere is growing on the church to admit collective guilt for mass murder. However, the bishops reject this.

Apology harms church

The announcement, which was read out in churches across the country, has disappointed expectations, however, the weekly magazine The East African quoted voices from the Rwandan government as saying. "Deliberately" the church had refrained from making a general admission of guilt, thus failing to show the expected level of contrition. As a result, the Kigali administration rejected the apology.

"A general apology would be damaging to the reputation of the Catholic Church. That's why it refuses to confess to general involvement," Issa Byaruhanga, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda, is quoted as saying.

Vatican under prere?

According to the report, prere is also growing on the Vatican. The latter must apologize on behalf of the Catholic Church, critics demand. Bishops' Conference spokesman Philippe Rukamba, however, sees the demands as baseless. "The Catholic Church should not excuse itself as an institution. It should not be held responsible for the crimes of its members who, on top of that, acted against what we preach."

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