April 21, 2004
By Fredrick Nzwili
Ecumenical News International
Kenya — Representatives of Christian denominations have acknowledged
their past inaction and urged strong support for a healing process in
Rwanda, still recovering from the trauma of a genocide in which up to 1
million people were killed over 100 days in 1994.
a document titled, “The Kigali Covenant,” produced at an April 16-19
workshop in the Rwandan capital, churches said they would “stand up and
speak against behavior, pronouncements and practices that have the
tendency to set one group of people against another.” The covenant was
read out at a Sunday service in the Kigali Stadium to mark the 10th
anniversary of the massacres.
Leaders from 20
African countries attended the workshop, convened by the Protestant
Council of Rwanda and the Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Rwanda,
together with the All Africa Conference of Churches and the World
Council of Churches. (The United Methodist Church is a major supporter
of the world council.)
Before leaving for Rwanda
from Kenya — where he had visited April 8-15 — the Rev. Samuel Kobia, a
Methodist who serves as the world council’s chief executive, said that
churches accepted the guilt of inaction.
message we are taking to Rwanda is that we as churches know we could
have done more to prevent the genocide,” he told Ecumenical News
International. “We could have spoken much earlier as churches.”
the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, the Rev.
Ishmael Noko, appealed for an end to the silence and inaction that
permitted genocide and social cleansing to take place in any part of the
In a letter sent to Rwandan President
Paul Kagame, Noko noted that the Rwanda killings a decade ago continued
to be a powerful indictment against a global community that “after the
Second World War, had sworn genocide would never be allowed to occur
He said it was particularly painful to
reflect on the role played by religious leaders in fomenting and
carrying out the killings. The genocide, he said, “should be a permanent
challenge to the complacency of religious leaders in all regions of the
News media can contact Linda Bloom at (646) 369-3759 New York or by E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.