The Bishop of Kabgayi diocese, Smaragde Mbonyintege has confirmed his diocese released the list of priests whose silver jubilee was to be celebrated including convicts of genocide crimes.
The response follows the recent heated debate on social media circulating the invitation for the celebration of silver jubilee on 16th July 2016 of priests two of whom are genocide convicts. The act saw Ibuka declaring the act to be trivializing genocide as Bishop Mbonyintege denied to have released the invitation.
The bishop has told IGIHE that the occasion of celebrating of silver jubilee for six priests was to be used as well to apologize on behalf of the two of priests convicted of genocide crimes.
“We accept that these priests are genocide convicts and jailed. As a family that brought them up, we will apologize for their offenses that frustrated Christians,“ he said.
Kabgayi diocese agrees to have released the invitation
The invitation for jubilee celebration for genocide convicts was circulated at the end of June, 2016. The invitation raised outrage among members of the public and IBUKA, umbrella organization of genocide survivors.
At the time, Bishop Mbonyintege denied to have released the circulated invitation but today he has confirmed it was published by his diocese.
“I didn’t know anything about the invitation. You asked me but I didn’t really know what you were talking about. The invitation was released by our priest and I received explanations later. The wrong thing was that the invitation was not clearly explained since it created confusion,” he said.
Was the priest who released the invitation mistaken?
Talking on the release of the invitation Bishop Mbonyintege said; “We can’t call it a mistake but the reality is explaining wrongly .We discussed and I told him that he created ambiguity. He had no bad intention for what he did,” he said adding that the church can’t forget two priests during the celebration as all belong to the Catholic Church.
“These priests committed offenses but they are ours.They are children of Catholic Church. Celebrating them demonstrating their crimes is not valorization but reminding them what they did. When a priest is convicted of such crime he is deprived of duties. A person ordained priest holds the title of priest forever,” he said.
IBUKA rejected the circulated invitation requesting to remove genocide priests from the list.
“IBUKA and genocide survivors would not be sunk into chagrin if they understood what is supposed to be done. When a person misconceives what he/she hears you don’t blame him rather provide explanations,” said the bishop.
Rukundo Emmanuel, a former Kabgayi priest, was convicted of genocide crimes by Arusha International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and sentenced for 23 years.
Raping Tutsi women, conspiracy with Interahamwe to kill Tutsi and getting his fellow priest Mbuguje Alphonse killed are some of the crimes.
Another Kabgayi priest ,Joseph Ndagijimana who was the chief priest of Byimana parish in 1994 was in 2008 convicted of genocide crimes by Byimana Gacaca court.