Rwandan Catholic Bishops on a visit to Rome

On 6 March 2023 at 04:32

Bishops of the Catholic Church in Rwanda have begun a working visit in Rome where they will meet with Pope Francis to discuss the state of Catholic Church in the country and other relevant issues.

The visit known as "Ad limina Apostolorum" is scheduled between 6th and 11th March 2023.

’An ad limina’ is an obligatory visit made by all bishops to Rome during which they pray at the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul. In addition, they meet with Pope Francis and Vatican officials and present a quinquennial report of their respective diocese.

The Archbishop of Kigali, Cardinal Antoine Kambanda has said that bishops in this visit meet with Pope Francis for presentation of a report on state of Catholic Church and evangelization in Rwanda over the past five years.

They also share challenges, new plans whereafter they receive advise and message to deliver to Christians.

Apart from meeting with Pope, Cardinal Kambanda disclosed that they also hold talks with other senior members of the Catholic Church and Vatican’s top leadership.

He explained that a lot has been achieved by the Catholic Church following the previous visit in 2014, such as the increase of Christians, priests, members of the clergy, Christian families and parishes among others.

These activities go hand in hand with the ’quasquicentennial jubilee’ (125th anniversary) since evangelization was introduced in Rwanda.

Cardinal Kambanda said that they have a many things to be discussed with Pope Francis.

“Normally, we have a message to share with him during such the visit. As the church is expanding with new parishes and increase of Christians, we need new dioceses,” he said.

“It is about learning how larger dioceses can be split to get closer to Christians even further. It is within our powers as bishops to establish new parishes but only the Pope can decide on the creation of a new diocese,” added Kambanda.

Besides, newly created congregations need approval by the Pope.

“We are grateful to God that we have a large number of young people willing to serve God not only through usual congregations but also newly created ones that still need the Catholic Church’s approval. This is among other issues to be discussed with His Holiness,” she revealed.

A mass is expected to be celebrated at the tomb of Saint Peter during this visit.

Rwandan Bishops will also meet with the Secretariat of Vatican which oversees foreign relations.

Cardinal Kambanda also disclosed that they want to hold talks with the church’s body responsible for canonization.

“We have God’s servants Cyprien Rugamba and Daphrose Mukansanga and children. We made request to have them named venerable. The Pope’s office in charge is reviewing it. We will discuss with them on the progress and when to expect answer,” he noted.

Their itinerary shows that the bishops will meet with Pope Francis on Friday 10th March, Vatican’s secretariat on 9th March and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Evangelization on 7rh March 2023.

Pope Francis invites bishops to present the quinquinnal report. Rwanda’s invitation was sent early December 2022.

The previous visit was held between 25th March and 3rd April 2014.

It has however been almost nine years without holding the visit due to COVID-19 related restrictions.

Moreover, dioceses increased to 3,017 that the Pope that it would like to meet more than one bishop per day yet he is in advanced age with other duties.

It had also taken seven years for Rwandan bishops to go in Vatican for the visit in 2014.

Rwandan Catholic Bishops last visited Rome in 2014.