Question by STRAUSSIAN: What was the role of the Roman Catholic church during the genocide in Rwanda in 1994?
I have read that the role of the Church was not positive at all, and that some Catholic priests actually helped encourage the violence.
Why is this? Why didn’t the Roman Catholic church in Rwanda take a strong stance AGAINST genocide?
Answer by Mike K
Didn’t do enough fast enough like everyone else. Much comes down to individual actions with people not living up to their ideals and obligations much like Peter who denied Jesus through to the other apostles who coward away when Jesus was taken.
Here is more or less the outcome:
Many clergy did not protect civilians who sought their help, either from fear for personal safety or desire to see them killed. A smaller number incited the genocide. These include most prominently Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who was convicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and Theophister Mukakibibi and Maria Kisito, Rwandan Roman Catholic nuns sentenced for helping to kill hundreds of Tutsi during the genocide. Also involved were Roman Catholic priests Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, Athanase Seromba, and Emmanuel Rukundo, all of whom have been convicted of genocide.
Some individual members of the religious community attempted to protect civilians, sometimes at great risk to themselves. For example, Mgr. Thaddée Ntihinyurwa of Cyangugu preached against the genocide from the pulpit and tried unsuccessfully to rescue three Tutsi religious brothers from an attack, while Sr. Felicitas Niyitegeka of the Auxiliaires de l’Apostolat in Gisenyi smuggled Tutsi across the border into Zaire, until she was executed by a militant militia in retaliation. In her book Left to Tell: Discovering God in the Rwandan Holocaust (2006), Immaculee Ilibagiza, a Tutsi woman, describes hiding with seven other Tutsi women for 91 days in a bathroom in the house of Pastor Murinzi – for the majority of the genocide. At the St Paul Pastoral Centre in Kigali, about 2,000 people found refuge and most of them survived, due to the efforts of Fr Celestin Hakizimana. This priest ‘intervened at every attempt by the militia to abduct or murder’ the refugees in his centre. In the face of powerful opposition, he tried to hold off the killers with persuasion or bribes.
Sadly everyone from the Christian churches to the USA and EUC themselves, not to mention the UN really screwed this up.
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