International Catholic Church laws grant punishments for murder crimes and seriously condemn a priest guilty of leaking priest-assisted penitence secrets. However the church has no article defining punishments for genocide crimes which has been condemned as overdue as the church had some of its priests involved in the 1994 genocide against Tutsi.
It is almost one month since Kabgayi diocese got mired into releasing invitations for celebrating the silver jubilee of seven priests of whom two are genocide crimes convicts.
The released invitations stirred outrage among institutions protecting rights of genocide survivors like IBUKA which described the act as trivializing and hurting 1994 Tutsi genocide survivors.
A researcher and writer on genocide against Tutsi, Tom Ndahiro, has said that it is time for the Catholic Church to include statements against genocide crimes within its laws.
He noted this on Sunday in talk show aired at City Radio.
“The church should revise its laws .It has a clause punishing murder crime but doesn’t punish genocide crime. It is time for the church to include an article against genocide crimes within its laws,” he said.
“Committing genocide is killing a person for his innate characters and disrespecting God,” he added.
Ndahiro explained that a priest found to have leaked penitence secrets is sacked from all duties and said it is given much focus compared to genocide crime.
The president of Episcopal Conference in Rwanda, bishop Philippe Rukamba has confirmed to IGIHE that the church does not have a law punishing genocide crime but attributed the cause to the fact that Catholic Church laws were implemented in 1880s before genocide crimes became common.
“To amend the law requires a long assessment. However, genocide is a great and overwhelming crime to the extent that culprits in the Catholic Church have to pass through legal procedures and receive punishment,” he said.
“Amending laws is an issue to be discussed as laws may be increased .It is a concern of the entire world that it can be possible as it evolves in connection with time,” he added.
Bishop Rukamba says that murder crimes are punished by the church’s laws since they were known earlier.
Today, accepted genocides are 1994 genocide against Tutsi, Jew’s genocide from 1933 to 1945 and Armenia genocide from 1915 to 1917 and were all committed during the 20th century.
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