Catholic Church hints on tougher punishments for genocide convicted clerics

By IGIHE
On 23 October 2019 at 11:23

The Catholic Church in Rwanda has announced that several measures have been put in place against clerics convicted of genocide crimes after completing their sentence that research is ongoing to come up with more solutions based on severity of committed crimes.

This was revealed yesterday during a press conference organized by the Catholic Church’s Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) aimed at assessing unity and reconciliation efforts by the church over the past 25 years.

In the past few days, different institutions and the public expressed concerns that the Catholic Church should dismiss some of its clerics including priests, nuns, bishops, and followers convicted for a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

For instance, the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide (CNLG) said recently in May that such people should not rejoin the clergy.

One of the pointed out convicts includes Father Denis Sekamana who completed 15 years sentence and reintegrated in church services in Butare Diocese. There are other nuns who were transferred to other congregations in Belgium.

Speaking to journalists, the Archbishop of Kigali Diocese and the President of Bishop’s Justice and Peace Commission, Antoine Kambanda said that relieving convicted clerics from activities giving them the floor in the public and giving them enough time to confess were among taken measures.

“For such serious crimes, the convict is given time to confess and pray. We believe that a person can be transformed but doesn’t continue to assume duties like before,’ he said.

Archibishop Kambanda said research is underway to make assess whether strict measures can be adopted for clerics convicted of genocide crime.

“It is about isolating him from public appearance, to have enough time for prayers and repent without assuming duties as usual. We still undergo an assessment because genocide implies extreme cruelty that it is hard to find a matching punishment. What we try to do is to make sure the person repents and reconcile with God,” he said.

The Executive Secretary of the National Unity and Reconciliation Commission (NURC), Fidèle Ndayisaba said the feedback from citizens draw emphasis on instituting tougher punishments for clerics who committed genocide crimes.

He explained that such people are no longer trusted that it gives a negative image by reinstalling them to former functions.

“It is obvious that they are not trusted anymore yet their function requires honest people. This implies that the Rwandan community is frustrated with being led by people who lost reputation in the face of the international community,” he said.

“Some churches decided to relieve pastors who perpetrated the genocide of their duties. Indeed, a person doesn’t return to public service after a six-month sentence,” added Ndayisaba.

In March 2017, Pope Francis apologized for the Catholic Church and members for a role in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

Archibishop Kambanda said research is underway to make assess whether strict measures can be adopted for clerics convicted of genocide crime.

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