President Kagame is in Vatican, Italy, where he held talks with His Holiness Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace,Vatican to discuss bilateral relations between Rwanda and Holysee.
During the discussions, President Kagame commended the Church’s contributions to Rwanda’s socio-economic development, particularly in the education and health sectors.
Kagame’s visit was an opportunity to discuss with Pope Francis about the Church’s role in the most tragic chapters of Rwanda’s past, leading up to the Genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.
The meeting comes after a series of accusations against Catholic Church’s servants who were involved in Genocide.
Before 1994, Catholic institutions and missions, together with the colonial administration, played a decisive role in dividing Rwandans and laying the intellectual foundation for genocide ideology where today, genocide denial and trivialisation continue to flourish in certain groups within the Church and genocide suspects have been shielded from justice within Catholic institutions.
The meeting was characterised by a spirit of openness and mutual respect and was branded a positive step forward in the relationship between Rwanda and the Holy See, based on a frank and shared understanding of Rwanda’s history and the imperative to combat genocide ideology.
The meeting is said to allow both sides to build a stronger base for restoring harmony between Rwandans and the Catholic Church.
Rwanda’s progress in reconciliation and economic development was noted, including the fact that survivors and repentant perpetrators have learned to live and work side-by-side, and that shared Catholic faith has facilitated these efforts and provided comfort.