The Churches in Rwanda have appealed to the global press and electronic media, international and ecumenical authorities, to stop using the ethnic vocabulary "which encloses Rwandans in the shackles of 'Hutu-Tutsi' as this term has become deadly".
The Church in Rwanda has also been challenged to condemn any ethnic ideology as well as all other negating attitudes and statements that are a hindrance to reconciliation among the Rwandese people.
These recommendations were made by Rwandan Church leaders attending an ecumenical seminar in Kigali this month on the subject - Christianity before and after genocide in Rwanda. They called on the Church of the future in Rwanda to be one of hope, a Church that integrates the positive aspects of people's culture, that is poorer but freer, more attentive to people's concerns and challenges from the society, to which is should react in a truly evangelical manner.
The seminar was organised by the Protestant Council of Rwanda and 60 church leaders, including Roman Catholics, were present. They noted that while the 1994 genocide was a sign of failure on the part of the local and universal Church, the Church should now acknowledge its responsibility in the genocide, repent, humbly ask for forgiveness and make amends.
In recommendations made at the end of the seminar, Church leaders pointed out that the Church should not thwart human justice but should encourage people to repent and forgive. They also recommended that the Church should create a place in their communities where members, victims, culprits and witnesses, can relate the truth about the past through discussion and confession. Whilst saying that the Church should be deeply involved in reconciliation the seminar emphasised that in undertaking this process the requirements of truth, justice and making amends should be respected.
Members of the seminar acknowledged the role of the Church as a key institution in society that has responsibility for elaborating, circulating and sustaining the ideology of ethnicity in Rwanda. Noting the history of the ethnic divides in Rwanda and the role of missionaries and the Church in that, the members of the seminar went on the say that from 1959 until the time of the 1994 genocide, the Churches in Rwanda had never, in an official and explicit way, said no to the violence and massacres of the innocent. On the contrary, they noted, Church men and women have been part of these humiliating acts either by helping passively, opening taking part in the crime or by justifying the unacceptable.
"After the genocide, the Church continues to act as if there was nothing," the Church representatives noted as they challenged the Rwandan Church to come out openly in support and solidarity with its members and help them instill healing and reconciliation in Rwanda."