The Next Pope?

Cardinal Robert Sarah
Cardinal Robert Sarah

Sandro Magister writes about Cardinal Robert Sarah, who has a chance at being the next Pope. I have also kept my eye on Cardinal Sarah for the last couple years. Magister provides a brief biography of the Cardinal, who is from Guinea. An excerpt:

He was born in a remote village in the savanna, into a freshly converted family. At the age of 12 he was circumcised and initiated into manhood in the forest. He studied to be a priest and became one, while his Guinea was under the bloody regime of the Marxist Sekou Touré, with the bishop of Conakry, the capital, imprisoned and tortured.

He studied theology in Rome, at the Gregorian and especially at the Biblicum, with rector Carlo Maria Martini and professors like Lyonnet, Vanhoye, de la Potterie. He spent a year at the prestigious École Biblique in Jerusalem.

And then he returned as a humble pastor to his Guinea, going on foot into the savanna to reach the very last of the faithful, amid a majority Muslim population. Until Paul VI made him a bishop in 1978, the youngest in the world at the age of 33. And he entrusted him with Conakry, as Sekou Touré became ever more infuriated with this new pastor and undaunted defender of the faith. After the tyrant’s sudden death in 1984, they would discover that Sarah was the first on the list of enemies to be eliminated.

Theologically, Cardinal Sarah aligns with Pope Benedict:

Sarah has boundless admiration for Pope Joseph Ratzinger. He shares his idea that for the Church of today, the absolute priority is to bring God into the heart of civilizations, both those of ancient Christian tradition that has been obfuscated or denied, and those that are still pagan.

Excerpts are quoted from his book, including:

The Church cannot go forward as if reality did not exist: it can no longer content itself with ephemeral enthusiasms, which last for the duration of great gatherings or liturgical assemblies, as beautiful and rich as they may be. It can no longer hold back from a practical reflection on subjectivism as the root of most of the current errors. What use is it that the pope’s Twitter account is followed by hundreds of thousands of persons if men do not concretely change their lives? What use is it to tally up the figures of the crowds that throng before the popes if we are not sure that the conversions are real and profound? […]

Keep your eyes on Cardinal Sarah when the next Conclave rolls around.

A Prophetic Voice in Africa

Last week, the Church in Africa stood up boldly and did the right thing in a couple different places. I have focused a lot on the failure of the Church in Rwanda to do the right thing, so it is helpful to see what it looks like when in another part of Africa, the Church gets it right.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)

Protests erupted last week as the quasi Dictator of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, made moves towards allowing himself to run for President again. Protesters were shot and killed in Kinshasa. Aaron Ross reported that:

As anti-government demonstrations in the capital Kinshasa entered their third day, the leader of Congo’s Catholics, Cardinal Laurent Mosengwo Pasinya, strongly criticised any attempt to postpone a presidential election due next year.

Cardinal Pasinya continued:

“We disapprove of and condemn any revision of the electoral law that aims to … illegally postpone the holding of the elections in 2016,” Mosengwo Pasinya said, adding that some politicians and the security services were stoking the violence.

“We condemn these actions that have caused deaths and make an urgent appeal: Stop killing your people; don’t march on the ashes of your compatriots,” his statement said.

Cardinal Pasinya

 

Uganda

Meanwhile in Uganda, Dictator Yoweri Museveni insulted opposition politicians, calling them “wolves waiting to tear Uganda apart.”

A Catholic parish priest from Kitanga parish named Fr Gaetano Batanyenda:

…has demanded that President Museveni makes a public apology for referring to Opposition politicians as wolves.
Fr Batanyenda…said such remarks were against the Constitution that recognises multiparty politics.

This is the kind of healthy warning that follows Biblical norms and the great tradition of saints such as Ambrose. Let’s hope we see more of this in Africa and in our own nation.

 

Christians and Critical Thinking

Bishop Rucyahana with the Dictator of Rwanda
Bishop Rucyahana with the Dictator of Rwanda

In this post on the Economist’s Erasmus blog, Roman Catholic Cardinal George Pell is quoted as saying the following about the clerical sexual abuse scandal in that denomination:

The attitude of some people at the Vatican was that if accusations were being made against priests, they were being made exclusively or at least predominantly by enemies of the church to make trouble and therefore they should be dealt with skeptically. I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant rather than listen seriously to the complaints…I think in many ways, the English-speaking world made a significant contribution to the universal church in this area.

Similarly, a friend of mine told me about someone she knows who refuses to hear any criticism of the Roman Church and insists that the media simply doesn’t understand the Church and is out to get it. While I can understand that this is probably true, it should in no way invalidate critical thinking about the problems in a Church. In other words:

  1. Yes, the media by and large does not understand the Roman Church, or any Church.
  2. Yes, the media is in most cases secular and is actively hostile to God.
  3. But, this does not mean that we can therefore ignore stories of wickedness in the Church!

It becomes very easy for Church leaders to appeal to the laity over against blogs, media or outside reports and obtain a sympathetic ear, because we do know of the hostility that exists against us. However, this is often simply a form of manipulation by leaders who can evade critique by playing this card. In Anglican circles we have seen this with followers of Chuck Murphy who attacked “blogs” or “the internet” for their problems instead of looking in the mirror, and I have seen it quite often in conservative, orthodox circles who do not listen to criticism of, for example, John Rucyahana because it comes from the United Nations. For example, I received these responses to a highly sourced report on Rucyahana fundraising for M23:

Caution lights go on when anyone quotes a ‘UN’ report.

And:

So when our own administration puts out a report adhering to a “rigorous investigative methodology”, do you believe it without question? And this is the UN. The United Nations. I’m honestly not sure if you’re serious at this point.

I too used to share these totally negative views towards the UN until I started reading the recent history of East Africa and saw that, for all its flaws, the UN is one of the only forces for good in the region. If the UN did not exist in the DRC, utter chaos and ruin would ensue. Also, we would have no mechanism for reporting on Rwandan crimes in the area, and the UN’s reports follow a strict methodology that critics have no concept of.

What it boils down to is that many people are willing to overlook glaring evil if it is committed by theological / political allies. If a Roman priest is raping a young boy, I don’t want to hear it and will blame the media instead, or if an orthodox Anglican bishop supports a group of raping, murdering, child kidnapping terrorists, I won’t believe it because I have met him and he is a nice guy, also, it’s the UN so there!

Christians of all people should be aware of original sin and how it exists in each of us. How many times do we hear of the pastor who was wonderful and was later found to be cheating on his wife (i.e. Ted Hagard)? Or the murderer who lived next door and was active in church (BTK)? Or in our own lives, we can yell at each other on the way to church, then show up and smile for the world to see, none the wiser about our heart condition.

The frightening thing about this state of denial in Anglican circles is that it currently applies to theological issues. What if, God forbid, we have our own sexual predators in the clergy someday? Will we circle the wagons around them too because they agree with the Jerusalem Declaration?  God’s people need to exercise critical thinking.

Evangelii Gaudium a “source of grief and pain for the faithful”

Fr. Franz Schmidberger, Rector of the Society of St. Pius X seminary in Germany has reviewed Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium here. Here are some choice excerpts from his review:

This double objective, together with the loquacious nature of the pontiff, makes for writing that is not clearly structured; it lacks precision, succinctness, and clarity.

Also:

The Pope speaks of the Church as if up until now little has been done in the Church regarding the preaching of the Gospel or it has been done in an incomplete way. He complains about an easy, lethargic, and isolated attitude. These constant reprimands are embarrassing. One gets the impression that up until now little was done for the transmission of the Faith and the Gospel. These comments are accompanied with a constant reference to his own person. The personal pronoun “I” is used no less than 184 times, and we are not taking into account the use of “my,” “mine,” and “for me.”  

Later:

The Pope then speaks of a sound pluralism. How can we reconcile such pluralism with the knowledge that the second person of the Holy Trinity came into this world in order to save it, with the Truth that Jesus Christ is the source of all graces and that in Him alone is there salvation?

On Islam:

In the next paragraph the Pope reaches a concrete conclusion: “We Christians should embrace with affection and respect Muslim immigrants to our countries in the same way that we hope and ask to be received and respected in countries of Islamic tradition.” This number closes with a scandalous false statement: “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence”. Did the Holy Father ever read the Koran? 

 Father Schmidberger concludes:

The papal document Evangelii Gaudium may, like dispersed seeds, contain some good aspects. As a whole, however, the document is nothing but a development of the Second Vatican Council in its most unacceptable statements. We cannot find in it any “new paths for the Church’s journey in years to come” (#1), but another fatal step towards the downfall of the Church, the decomposition of its doctrine, the breakdown of its structure, and even the extinction of its missionary spirit which ironically is evoked over and over again. In this way Evangelii gaudium becomes the Dolor Fidelium, a source of grief and pain for the faithful.

As an outsider looking in on the Catholic Church, my sense is that it is becoming “mainline Protestant” at the top, which is what it probably has been for some time at the bottom in the West. As the history of the Church in Quebec and other areas shows, this type of doctrinal drift can eviscerate the numbers of people who hold onto the faith in short order. It will be fascinating to see the long-term impact of this Papacy on the health of the Catholic Church globally. 

A Letter Requesting the Resignation of Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege

The source text for the following letter is here. I used Google Translate to translate it into English:

Rwanda – Vatican : Letter requesting resignation of Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE His Holiness Pope !
Kabgayi , September 22, 2012
  His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Rome
 Vatican City – ITALIA
 Subject: Request for resignation of Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE the pastoral care of the diocese of Kabgayi ( Rwanda – Central Africa) inability of government and serious scandals.

Holy Father ,
 It is with great sorrow that we , priests of the diocese of Kabgayi , Rwanda (Central Africa) , are writing to request the resignation of Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE now Bishop of Kabgayi from the pastoral care of the diocese of Kabgayi inability of government to the diocese and serious scandals paralyzing the whole mission of evangelization in the diocese of Kabgayi .
Holy Father, there are only six years , the Clergy, Religious and Religious and the entire community of the Diocese of Kabgayi greeted with joy and relief the appointment of Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE the Episcopal Kabgayi after the resignation of his predecessor SE Archbishop Anastasius MUTABAZI for personal reasons. This appointment has raised hopes for the whole local Church Kabgayi , after a long time of vacancy of the episcopal see of Kabgayi complicated by poor interim administration has exacerbated tensions and divisions within the clergy and the entire Christian community Kabgayi .
Unfortunately, six years after the presence of Monsignor Smaragde MBONYINTEGE at the head of the diocese of Kabgayi as a Bishop, we note with bitterness that Kabgayi diocese is in the process of gradually and irreversibly sinking into the abyss.
We denounce the absence of a genuine administration for a large diocese already centenary as Kabgayi gross divisions deliberately maintained by Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE among the clergy , a permanent state of tension and fear and conflictual relations between the Bishop and the clergy , a disastrous financial managements and property of the Diocese , and finally his scandalous relationship with women who have an impact on its function and Bishop compromise its credibility in the diocese of Kabgayi where he was born and or the world knows her private life since childhood.
Holy Father let us stop for a moment on each of the items listed above to inform your father’s decision to take the diocese of Kabgayi the disastrous and outrageous where he is because of his pastor position .
I. Absence of a genuine diocesan administration .
Holy Father , it is true that there is no recipe for administration “perfect” of a diocese , however, for the government and administration of the diocese , the Church has clear and accurate readings recorded in the Code of Canon Law and Church documents . These indicate a number of essential ecclesial structures , skills and operating procedures .
To be effective, functional and practical , these general principles of government and administration are complemented by pastoral guidance developed by the clergy and lay participation notified and issued by the diocesan bishop . These guidelines provide pastoral ministry line to follow the pastoral work of priests and pastoral workers working in the diocese. This avoids the confusion that can generate too personal initiatives confuse the community of believers and promote unity and cohesion of the whole diocese .
Holy Father , the priests of the diocese of Kabgayi regret that Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE probably busy and preoccupied with his personal problems and difficulties can not find time and serenity necessary to establish a minimum credible diocesan structures , which are essential for the proper functioning of diocesan activities.
By absurd , saying that one can understand the reference “sine die” the appointment of Vicar General to cause divisions and rivalries that undermine the clergy of the diocese of Kabgayi . However, the situation becomes more worrisome when the diocese does not have some basic diocesan structures as a credible College of Consultors , a Council of Economic Affairs that works, a diocesan pastoral council , the board of laity, the parish council as yet mandatory canon law and many others …
Indeed, these diocesan structures have existed at some point , then quickly broke or became extinct because of internal rivalries and the inability of the Bishop to unity and communion in consistency , and to work in a reasonable, rational and transparent way how its important structures for the administration of a diocese .
In the absence of structures and pastoral committees should lend a hand with their commitment and cooperation , and guidance in the administration of the diocese , it is normal that Monsignor Smaragde MBONYINTEGE – actually cut his clergy and the Christian community – is one man, isolated and unable to face the complexity of the issues and challenges facing our diocese faces.
Yes , Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE is one man and cut off his clergy and community and no longer has any moral authority in the territory of our local Church . He sees well that he can not control the situation and despair . This is evident in his reactions meetings and meetings . Unable to dialogue and listening to others, it is authoritarian in his remarks , aggressive in his responses and unable to hold a coherent speech and before his priests to the congregation , so much so that even the evangelical teaching and magisterial compromised .
Holy Father, because of lack of organization and disorder in the diocese not finally pastoral plan for evangelization , we believe that Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE is not up to the task and responsibilities that are hers as Bishop of Kabgayi .
II . A permanent state of division and conflict relationships among the clergy Kabgayi
Bishop Smaraggde Mbonyintege )
Holy Father, who does not know the unhealthy climate and the fear in the clergy Kabgayi , this may seem a slander to the place of the Bishop of Kabgayi . The reality is that every day the priests live in Kabgayi divisions and maintained by Bishop Smaragde MBONYINTEGE permanent tensions. Despite all the pain experienced by our country because of the genocide of 1994, Monsignor Smaragde MBONYINTEGE to divest or rising above ethnic divisions or other types of divisions to really be a father to all , a sign of unity and communion for all priests and the Christian community Kabgayi and Father welcomes all son and daughters of the diocese without prejudice or exclusion. Rather it is a sad fact that when he is not personally -bearer of these divisions , it maintains the subtle and malicious manner within the clergy and the entire community.
The diocese of Kabgayi is the only diocese in Rwanda where the priests are cataloged and appointed mission stations in reference to their ethnicity, their country of origin when they are missionaries , they are loyal when they obey blindly policy divisive and partisan of the bishop and ” unruly and delinquent ” when they dare to make critical judgments about some evangelical attitudes of the Bishop .
In the diocese of Kabgayi words like “unity” of the presbyterate ” communion and priestly fraternity ” are empty words and make us smile . Indeed how to speak of unity, communion and priestly fraternity “without communication between the priests , the priests and their bishop , in a climate of fear and terror exacerbated by a group of priests who are either opportunistic saying its defenders, and play role of the second column of the Bishop . Yes, the priests no longer live colleagues but most of their days in watching the movements of each other and in clandestine meetings in which they express their anger and helpless outrage the person of their Bishop.
Given the lack of unity and communication between Bishop and his priests Smaragde MBONYINTEGE , the climate of fear , suspicion , and distrust between them and their Bishop and the regular flow of criticism, even insults and About malicious addressed to the Bishop , through the national and international press , which not only greatly tarnished the image of the Church of Rwanda , but also the universal Church , we conclude that our pitiful situation like priests Kabgayi diocese is not just an isolated problem of the Diocese of Kabgayi , but a problem of the universal Church . Our call to our dear cry and Beloved Holy Father is in this context of the very lack of essential elements of the mission and pastoral work of the Church by the same fault of our Bishop. Without unity and communion between priests and their bishop and priests among themselves, what’s left of their testimony and credibility to the community of the faithful, with honesty and realism say that there is virtually nothing otherwise the ship to change course.
Let us return to the serious problem of lack of unity and communion between the bishop and the clergy of the diocese , which is the crux of the problem and the operation of services in the diocese of Kabgayi . Indeed, despite the lessons learned from the tragic events of the 1994 genocide , the Bishop of Kabgayi , supported by a handful of priests imbued with ethnic and regionalist spirit continues to play this game the devil.
So when in other dioceses , bishops , making treasure the unfortunate experience of the past to strengthen the unity and communion of their clergy , the diocese of Kabgayi remains in antiquated prejudices and conclusions that are also new in this diocese . Also, in the new times we are currently living in our country and our Church , it is surprising that the priests are categorized by ethnicity and regional origin . Thus, in the diocese of Kabgayi rarely speaks of Presbytery , because it does not exist. Rather, there is :
– Hutu priests from Kabgayi , who are proud and lack of display and call time and cry their innate right to occupy all key functions in what they call ” the diocese ” ” diyosezi yacu in Kinyarwanda )
– originating Tutsi priests of the diocese of Kabgayi which are considered second-class priests and for the most part , carry with them internal injuries due to the consequences of the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994
– Particularly Ugandans foreign priests that has no important function in the diocese and have no rights , have no care in the diocese . And awareness and demonstrate that the Bishop does not want them. Example Ugandan priests died from lack of care and attention , while the Bishop knew they had delicate health and they would need special care.
– The missionaries of all kinds priests, who have every reason to keep quiet , they are strictly out of a sense of fear that the Bishop does not show them the exit door and gives them the ticket for the first plane makes return to their country of origin.
III. mismanagement of finances and property of the diocese and embezzlement organizations and benefactors.
The diocese of Kabgayi is probably not the poorest dioceses in Rwanda . On the contrary, if the finances and property of the diocese were managed intelligently and transparently , we would not have the economic and financial difficulties that our diocese today .
Many people , especially our people wonder where your grants organizations and donations of our faithful . Note that the Diocese of Kabgayi recently celebrated 100 years of evangelization . He has had time to consolidate its economic resources by a few works of production and cash flow . Unfortunately this centennial effort should have put the priests and workers in good conditions for pastoral work is about to be ruined by a disastrous property management and finances of the Diocese . In truth, there is no real Council for Economic Affairs. Everything is concentrated in the hands of the Bishop who does not know the difference between personal property and assets of the Diocese . Thrifty and other officials are irresponsible and without extras initiatives simply run awkwardly orders of Bishop. Financial meetings are not held regularly. Credible financial reports are not produced quarterly and annually. There is a notorious inability to correctly fix the annual budget and be followed for better implementation of pastoral and diocesan work . No responsible government , no transparency . This creates a chaos that encourages squandering and embezzlement of property and funds of the Diocese .
Most of the reports made ​​by the Diocese are reconstructed and invented , not having met for donors or term “ghost ” projects whose diocese received the money but were never realized. A simple audit would show unequivocally . This is in case that has revealed an audit of projects financed by organizations and aid agencies as Mission who have claimed the refund unconditionally a large sum of money to build a vocational school and whose nothing has been done. In such a context, it is no wonder that donors and benefactors , disappointed , lose confidence in the leaders of the diocese of Kabgayi and want more help for the realization of his pastoral social work . Simply because of poor management and lack of respect for the agencies funding benefactors . Applications for assistance are being rejected and are constantly challenged and forced to repay the funds not diverted .
Special and intimate with women IV.Relations where several children were born
Holy Father , we come to the crucial problem of Kabgayi diocese and pastor Smaragde Mbonyintege . These are his scandalous relationships with women where many children are born . To this day the priests and the faithful are wondering what this subterfuge important criterion was able to escape the vigilant attention and understanding of those who are responsible for conducting preliminary investigations of nominees to the episcopate ?
Her aunt Soline Christian deeply involved in parish Musumbira ( Diocese of Kabgayi ) is asked the same question and entrusted with indignation to a group of priests of the diocese who asked him if this is told of Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege was true ” Yes, what people tell about children allegedly Bishop Smaragde is true we are members of his family and we all know – . Especially now that they are all major and we need to address the problems of their legacies . And these children have grown up with us with our own children. Today is a Bishop , a great man. this is a great honor for our family, but as a Christian , I sometimes wonder how Rome was able to make a bishop while for us mere ignorant Christians , we have learned that it is forbidden thing I still wonder how we could make a Smaragde Bishop still Kabgayi where this is known to all . ” .
Yes , the thing is well known. And yet everyone is you and some would have preferred even hide the truth , but the story is compelling and fiercely resistant to the ravages of time . And his kids are there and well known.                                  
Holy Father , we give you the names and numbers for your wise and discreet verification:
1.Immaculée MUKARUTESI , born from the union of Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege with Lady Consolata , the wife of his elder brother Jean Baptiste Karenzi .
2.Sophie MUKAMUVUNYI now Secretary for Social Affairs in the Cyeza Sector Cyeza Parish , Diocese of Kabgayi .
3.Florence : Cashier at the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi , born of his marriage with a lady Nyamiyaga when he was a young priest serving in the parish of Kamonyi ( Diocese Kamonyi ) .
4.François MURENZI aka GIKO now executive secretary of the administrative cell Kabugondo , Sector Mugina , in the parish of Mugina .
5.Epimaque NKUNDINTWARI , motherless died during the genocide, today it has been welcomed by the family of Jean Baptiste KARENZI , big brother Monsignor Smaragde .
6.Augustin Mbonyintege , died during the 1994 genocide.
Six children at all well known. They are all major and easily identifiable. A good record for a bishop worthy of being recorded in the periodical ” Guinness ” .
With this offspring and regular claims of their rights to their natural father , it is clear that Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege no longer has the strength and serenity to deal with problems of the diocese of Kabgayi . Can we continue to live irresponsibly this scandalous situation that undermines our mission as priests and flows into the humiliation and shame the whole Christian community . This is too much, too as they say.
After the outrage , today we shout our anger . We do not want later our silence about these serious and shocking facts is interpreted by the Church as complicity or any irresponsibility in this vile condition .
V. Conclusion
Most Holy Father , to the serious problems plaguing the diocese of Kabgayi six years at both evangelism and institutions of the Diocese , considering the limits of personal character , life and personal history and its effects, its failure to promote the communion of his clergy , the people of God and the nation.
We priests of the diocese of Kabgayi , not hatred or human challenge to the person of Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege , an elder member of our Presbytery and incardinated in the Diocese of Kabgayi , but motivated by pastoral charity and love the Church , strong loyalty to truth and conscious revival Kabgayi , have recourse to your fatherly authority to ask you to meet Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege of his office as Bishop of the Diocese of Kabgayi for his personal property, much of people of God in Kabgayi and the good of all the Church of Rwanda . We would ask you to make your decision wisely but quickly, because the climate is too tight in the diocese and the press might take over, turning in the mud the whole Church.
Sincerely , Most Holy Father, to express our filial feelings your Person and our faithful attachment to the Church of God which you are the universal father.
The priests of the diocese of Kabgayi :

1 . Bishop Alphonse Rutaganda , National Representative for Education
    Catholic Rwanda, se

2 . Monsignor Pastor Anaclet , Parish Priest Musumbira , se

3 . Abbot Innocent Buregeya , pastor of the Cathedral Parish Kabgayi se

4 . Father Vincent Kagabo , Rector of the Catholic Institute of Kabgayi se

5. Abbot Theotimus Gatete , Rector of the Minor Seminary St. Leo Kabgayi se

6 . Father Aloys Munyensanga , Parish Priest Kinazi , se

7 . Abbe Pierre Musabyimana Parish Priest Mushishiro , se

8 . Father Jean Bosco Munyangabe , Parish Priest Mugina se

9 . Father Alphonse Munyanziza , pastor of St. Andrew Parish Gitarama , se

10 . Father Mathias Hategekimana, Parish Priest Cyeza , se

11 . Father Vincent Uwizerwa , Parish Priest Byimana se

12 . Abbot Revocatus Sindikubwabo Parish Priest Gihara , se

13. Maniraguha Abbot Joseph Parish Priest Kamonyi se

14. Abbot Damascene Habimana , Parish Priest Kibangu , se

15 . Abbot Valens Ndayisaba Parish Priest Kayanzi , se

16. Father Aloys Hakizimana Parish Priest Kivumu se

17. Father Emmanuel Sindayigaya , Parish Priest Nyarusange , se

18 . Father Eric Karamuka , Parish Priest Ntarabana , se

19. Father Vincent Habyarimana , Parish Priest Nzuki , se

20 . Father Silas Ngerero , Parish Priest Karambi se

21. Abbot Chrysanthe Rwasa Parish Priest Ruhango se

22. Father Romuald Kubwimana , Parish Priest Kigoma se

23. Father Yves Emmanuel Rucamumakuba , Parish Priest Ngamba , se

24 . Father Jean Berchmans Gasasira Parish Priest Nyabinyenga , se

25 . Father Jean Bosco Bizimana , Parish Priest Nyabinoni , se

26.Father Uwigaba John Baptist , pastor of the Paroise Kabuga , se

27. Father Edmond Hategekimana, Parish Priest Kanyanza , se

 Copy for information to:

 – His Eminence the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for

    Evangelization of Peoples, Rome.

 – His Excellency the Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Rwanda -Kigali

 All – Catholic Bishops of Rwanda

 – All Catholic Bishops ACEAC

 – All the Bishops of SECAM

Posted by Justin Mugabo (DHR )

The Disintegration of The Catholic Church Of Rwanda, II

Saskia Van Hoyweghen’s article The Disintegration of the Catholic Church of Rwanda gives us a window into the pre-genocide climate amongst Christians. She writes:

Historically the Catholic Church in Rwanda developed into a prominent institution, of which the subsequent regimes have often been called mere extensions. As such the Church was, just like the state, used by competing indigenous groups as a channel to power, prestige, and wealth.

This close identification of the Church with the Rwandan State continues in some measure today, but with the Anglican Church having largely taken the place of the Catholic Church. Van Hoyweghen identifies a Thomist vision of society undergirding the genesis of the Rwandan Catholic Church:

The success of the ‘Tutsi Church’ was in tune with the vision of the colonial religious and political establishment. Leon Classe, Vicar Apostolic sine 1913, was the embodiment of the theocratic, thomist vision within Catholicism. He dreamed of a hierarchical state-church and found a supporter in the Belgian colonial administration, which wanted to rule through the ‘traditional’ political system but trimmed it to ‘manageable and rational proportions’. The Tutsi were regarded as the noble rulers and the Hutu their subservient farmers. As a result the vision of a Catholic aristocracy, informed by the Faith and leading a subject peasantry along the paths of righteousness and economic development materialized. While authority had been complex and diffuse in pre-colonial times, the Church had become the generator and stabiliser of class structures.

Van Hoyweghen says that two differing strands of Catholicism, one being a Thomist vision of stability, the other being a more “Vatican II” social justice strand, — competed with one another within Rwanda:

By the 1940s, however, the political climate had changed sufficiently to generate among the new generation of missionaries and administrators sympathy for the Hutu cause. In the seminaries a Hutu counter-elite was formed. This elite could move to power because it successfully rallied the support of ‘social Catholicism’. The clergy experienced in Europe the burgeoning emancipation of a working class and the growth of trade-unionism. Hence it felt it had a moral duty to speak out on social injustice. This view was opposed to the ideas of Classe, who saw society and structure as neutral and the individual as the safeguarder of morality. These two strands within Christianity have never been at equilibrium in the Rwandese Catholic Church. While Hutu abbes found the support of an emancipating social Catholicism, the Tutsi abbes on the other hand expressed anti-Belgian and anti-White Father feelings and developed a nationalist discourse which was eventually turned against them. 

She poses the question of whether it is even proper to speak of the Church as an institution when individuals participated in it for their own (often ethnic) reasons:

While Tutsi were driven out of public office, they ‘would not let go of the Church’ as a channel for influence. Tutsi dominated the clergy because Hutu could finally take up positions in the public sphere. The Church played a major role in the economic development of the country and became the biggest employer after the state. It was therefore the focus of both Tutsi and deprived Hutu, mainly from the northern provinces in search of social promotion. The Church hierarchy however remained ‘faithful to the revolution’. The clergy reflected the fissions within society: while 90 per cent of the Christian population was Hutu, 70 per cent of the lower clergy were Tutsi, and most bishops Hutu. In this sense the Church was penetrated by society and faced difficulties becoming an independent institution with control over its flock. The question is, then, to what extent can the Catholic Church be considered an institution rather than a collection of people who all had their own reasons for being part of it? From the very start the indications of the potential weakness of the Church, have been largely overlooked in accounts of Rwandese Church history.

For most of its history, the Catholic Church in Rwanda was silent about the enormous evil perpetrated by the successive governments it was allied with. She writes:

The mute Church

In the midst of all this turbulence the Church remained silent. There was no reaction regarding the murder of Sylvio Sindambiwe, a journalist of the Catholic journal Kinyameteka. He paid with his life for an article he wrote on corruption. Amongst those arrested in October 1990 were several Tutsi priests, but again there came no reaction. The mark ‘mute Church’ would prove difficult to lose. Social justice had for long been absent from the Church’s vocabulary. The curriculum of the seminary of Nyakibanda, where Mgr. Perraudin had taught Kayibanda the social doctrine of the Catholic Church, had concentrated on liturgical matters and banned the discussion of social issues. The same Perraudin had kept silent when, years later, Kayibanda was imprisoned after the coup and died in prison of ‘neglect’ in 1976.

And she points to what I consider to be another key point of contact with the current Anglican leadership, particularly Archbishop Rwaje, Archbishop Kolini and Bishop Rucyahana – namely, the failure to address political problems such as the torture and murder of citizens that the RPF practices. The pietism of the Anglican Church seems to also be present in the Catholic Church:

The Church did not regard violence or corruption to be a structural problem but an aberration. It has become a hierarchically structured charity that did not question the political structures in which it comfortably operated and extended its development activities. The Church showed its clerical, hierarchical face again and remained deaf to Vatican II. Missionaries formerly active in Rwanda confirmed that the Rwandese Catholic Church was a very liturgical church, concentrating on individual salvation. This attitude has undoubtedly encouraged the development of a charismatic movement within the Church. Longman insists that this is even more true for the local parish. As social and economic centres they focused almost entirely on the development of personal faith. Problems were regarded as individual, and economic problems were never discussed in their broader sociopolitical context. It can be argued that the Church had an economic interest in supporting the existing status quo because as a cumbersome, extensive institution it needed a stable environment in which to operate. By the 1990s the changes in the air spelt a reshuffling of the cards if not instability. The Church hesitated to speak out. While the episcopacy remained silent, Christian organizations working under the umbrella of the Church took part in the rally for democracy. Both the Christian journals Kinyamateka and Dialogue had long been very critical of the regime and so were several Christian movements, such as youth organizations. The senior clergy, however, who had profited from the symbiosis with the regime, had no eye for social injustice nor the oppression of its own Tutsi clergy.

Switch “Hutu” for “Tutsi” here and you have a picture of Rwanda today! Finally, in 1991, voices from within the Church began to speak out:

The fact that the opposition remained united and credible explains why it managed to push through its demands. At this point it had also received an extra voice. On 1 December 1991 the Church broke its silence. Mgr. Thaddee Nsengiyumva (who is not related to the Archbishop Mgr. Vincent Nsengiyumva), Bishop of Kabgaye, published a pastoral letter entitled ‘Let’s Convert and Live Together in Peace’. This brave and self-critical document came as a real bombshell. Firstly it criticized the Church’s silence. It also accused the Church of corruption: the links with the grassroots were neglected because the Church had become part of the ruling elite in search of prestige and material rewards. Secondly, Mgr. Thaddee Nsengiyumva condemned the war. The political issues in the letter were in tune with the demands of the opposition. He was also of the opinion that the solution of the refugee problem would give the RPF no basis to continue the war.

I will look at the rest of this article next.

The Disintegration of The Catholic Church Of Rwanda

Writing in 1996, shortly after the genocide, Saskia Van Hoyweghen provides a portrait of the Catholic Church in Rwanda up until the genocide, and it is a portrait that is somewhat mirrored in the current Anglican Church of Rwanda. She says:

Until 1988 Rwanda was one of the best performing countries in the region. Rwanda, ‘la petite Suisse, pays des milles collines’, became paradise for NGO’s and missions, the favourite of the international aid community. The skill of the president in establishing a ‘postcolonial historic bloc’  should not be underestimated. Habyarimana understood that in ‘search for autonomy of the state’ a coalition with both the Church and the international community was valuable. Hence the completion of the Church-state symbiosis. On the top level the collaboration of state and Church was embodied by Archbishop Vincent Nsengiyumva, who was close to the presidential family and an active member in the committee of the MRND (Mouvement Revolutionnaire National pour la Democratie), the single party. The Church and state elites had a mutual interest in maintaining good relationships. The Catholic Church controlled most of the provision of education and health care, which was financially beneficial for the state, as education and health care are major expenses on the national budget. The state on the other hand could set the rules under which the Church had to operate by applying, for instance, (ethnic) quota systems.The central committee of the MRND was a forum where members of the same class, both Church and state leaders, could defend their often mutual interests. A position in this committee involved immense prestige and wealth. So Vincent Nsengiyurnva left this position only in 1990 under pressure of the Vatican, on the eve of the visit of the Pope, but he maintained friendly relationships with the president’s family. On every level, clergy were members of all sorts of development commissions. Habyarimana’s slogan was development, but it was the relatives of the presidents’ wife, Agathe Kanziga, who ate the largest part of the national cake at the expense of both Tutsi (the Gitarama-based establishment of former president Kayibanda) and of the rural population in general.

Bishop Mbanda on the Rwandan Church

Archbishop Kolini, Paul Kagame and Bishop Mbanda

Writing in 1997, current Anglican Bishop Laurent Mbanda offered a fairly scathing take on the Catholic Church in Rwanda:

The case in Rwanda is reflected in Linden’s statement: ‘For many, Catholicism has simply become the religion of the powerful, an opinion for which there was ample evidence in Rwanda.’

[…]

The Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda quickly interjected itself into political life. From the beginning, it has never been seen to rise above its switching of allegiance from one group to another-first from the Hutus to the Tutsi and later back to the Hutus. This flexibility has always presented a paradox to the Rwandan people. Somehow the Roman Catholic Church has always seemed to be able to read signs of political changes to come, and made statements that would help it either to be on neutral ground or to line up with the strong.

From the activities of the colonial administration and its alliance with the Catholic Church, Mbanda draws the conclusion that it would have been better to be apolitical:

The Catholic Church, as well as the mainline Protestant denominations that followed, would have done better to avoid close identification and involvement with politics in order not to compromise their Christian witness.

Mbanda talks about visiting elderly Rwandans in 1994 who knew the first Anglican missionaries to Rwanda, and says of the Anglican missionaries:

They were known for their tireless relief work during the famine years, and their choice to be apolitical. The Anglican missionaries were doing a wonderful work that King Musinga often described as exemplary.

Mbanda again says:

It is dangerous for the Church to take sides in politics, more so when Christian teachings are organized to fit a political ideology.

He writes:

There is no one time in Rwandan church history when the Church was not involved in political games, ethnic divisions and discrimination, although yet on the outside, it appeared to be apolitical, continuing the preaching of love, peace and justice;

Mbanda’s conclusion that the Church should be apolitical is not backed up by any Scriptural argument, and it is disastrous in the face of a dictator like Paul Kagame who practices murder.

Orwellian Church Monitoring in Rwanda

The State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report for 2011 describes State surveillance of churches in Rwanda:

Following the July 29 conviction of Catholic priest Emile Nsengiyumva for threatening state security after he gave a sermon criticizing government family planning and housing programs, several pastors of different denominations began to report monitoring by government agents attending religious services. Some pastors privately expressed fear of potential consequences for contradicting government policies.

A Catholic priest speaks about his Church’s doctrine on family planning and is convicted for it! Other pastors are afraid of contradicting government policies – is this the message that is sold through PEAR USA and other Rwandan outreaches to American evangelicals who don’t know any better? It is past time for American Anglicans to stand up and speak the truth about Rwanda.

What to Make of Pope Francis, Part II

The colossal changes sweeping through culture completely upended what is expected in worship services, in both Protestant and Catholic churches. Onto the Post-Christian stage steps Pope Francis. The reaction to his elevation was puzzling, because oddballs like Hans Kung seemed gleeful to see him become Pope. Stories circulated of his friendship with Protestants, but also of his apparent lackluster feelings for Benedict’s revived Latin Mass.  
Much has been made of his humility, but at some point I start to wonder if all of your humility is on display for the world to see, is it really humble? And is it a slap in the face to your predecessor? Do you need to refuse the Papal apartment and riding in the Popemobile? They are paid for, you aren’t buying them, so why make such a stir about these things? The priesthood in the Bible was robed in glory, and our services should be glorious, not drab and barren. So are we witnessing a return to the worst of the insane revolution that produced bad buildings and horrible liturgies (akin to the 79 BCP), or is this something else? 
There are almost no bastions of tradition, beauty and ceremony left in the world. All has become ugly and commonplace. Monarchies and liturgical churches are a couple of the last redoubts holding out against complete annihilation by the jeans, tee shirts and flip flops crowd. So is Pope Francis going to finish the job that Vatican II started and utterly destroy the sacredness of the liturgical ceremony in his quest for ‘simplicity’? Will he clean out corruption over the sexual abuse scandals? If so, will he also usher in doctrinal innovations that are heretical? From a Protestant point of view, I’d love to see him restore church discipline and excommunicate the Biden’s and Pelosi’s of the world. I see his use of the title “Bishop of Rome” and his moves towards equality with the Cardinals as potentially positive. But if they come hand in hand with a radical agenda of deconstructing the mystery of the liturgy and letting the quasi Liberal Protestants loose on the Church in America, this cannot be good. 
The Traditionalist blog, Rorate Caeli, has been all over the new Pope. For example, when he washed feet in the prison yesterday for Maundy Thursday, commenters wrote: 

In mediaeval times, the Pope originally did in fact wash the feet of twelve paupers (all male, of course). If memory serves, local bishops who practised the custom would either wash the feet of paupers or of their clergy. The original monastic custom was for the abbot to wash the feet of *all* the community. 

However, the present Pope’s behaviour is nothing so much as archaeologism tainted with feminism, and one might wish to argue that his proclaimed “humility” is more likely self-will. 

They pointed out, correctly, that Jesus washed the feet of the Twelve Disciples, not of unbelievers, and not of women, which raises issues of propriety. They also point this bit of history out: 

In the latter half of the twelfth century the pope washed the feet of twelve sub-deacons after his Mass and of thirteen poor men after his dinner. The “Caeremoniale episcoporum” directs that the bishop is to wash the feet either of thirteen poor men or of thirteen of his canons.  

Another post points to the Pope’s total disregard for his titles. Further adding to Trad unease, Friar Raniero Cantalamessa preached a sermon today which could be read as a call for taking a wrecking ball to the liturgy: 

We know what the impediments are that can restrain the messenger: dividing walls, starting with those that separate the various Christian churches from one another, the excess of bureaucracy, the residue of past ceremonials, laws and disputes, now only debris.ᅠ 

In Revelation, Jesus says that He stands at the door and knocks (Rev 3:20). Sometimes, as noted by our Pope Francis, he does not knock to enter, but knocks from within to go out. To reach out to the “existential suburbs of sin, suffering, injustice, religious ignorance and indifference, and of all forms of misery.” As happens with certain old buildings. Over the centuries, to adapt to the needs of the moment, they become filled with partitions, staircases, rooms and closets. The time comes when we realize that all these adjustments no longer meet the current needs, but rather are an obstacle, so we must have the courage to knock them down and return the building to the simplicity and linearity of its origins.” 

On the positive side, Francis continued to attack relativism, saying: 

It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the ‘tyranny of relativism’, which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.” 

The things that I would really like Rome to reconsider are probably not going to change: Scriptural fidelity, policy on icons, Purgatory, indulgences and Mary’s position. If the “reforms” of Francis are an attack on ceremony and terrible innovations that liberal theologians are pining for, then it is not favorable for any of us who take fidelity to Christ seriously. A reform that made the Roman Catholic Church into a Magisterial Protestant Church would be great, a reform that makes it into the present Church of England would be a disaster.