On Sunday, the Catholic church released a statement from the spokesperson of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, Bishop Phillipe Rukamba, apologising for the local church’s role in the Rwanda genocide of 1994.
In the statement, the Catholic church acknowledged that its members planned, aided and executed the genocide against the Tutsi. This apology coincided with the end of The Holy Year of Mercy.
“Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family, but instead killed each other,” the statement read.
Survivors said the church’s clergymen, priests and nuns played a role in the killings, while the Rwandan government said that many people also died in the actual churches, where thousands of the Hutus sought refuge.
The church, in the years after the genocide, is said to have denied its complicity in the violence that erupted after President Juvénal Habyarimana, a Hutu, was killed when his plane was shot down. The Catholic church is said to have distanced itself from individuals within the church who were implicated. It is still unknown who is responsible for shooting the plane down.
Rwandan researcher Tom Ndahiro said: “I am also happy to learn that in their statement, bishops apologise for not having been able to avert the genocide.”
The country’s tourism sector continues to grow decades after the genocide and is said to be a leading driver of economic growth.