Kigali, Rwanda, Apr 25, 2019 / 10:47 am America/Denver (CNA).
The Catholic bishops of Rwanda have apologized for calling for the release of old and ill prisoners convicted for crimes committed during the country’s 1994 genocide.
“We wrote to Christians, encouraging them to continue promoting unity and reconciliation, while also seeking forgiveness,” the bishops said in an April 7 statement signed by Bishop Phillippe Rukamba of Butare, the president of the Rwandan bishops' conference.
“This letter caused a lot of hurt, especially for what we requested on behalf of the elderly and sickest who are still in prison for the crime of genocide. We are saddened it offended people – this was not what we intended,” the bishops said.
The bishops had issued a pastoral letter March 25 commemorating the victims of the genocide, urging reconciliation and forgiveness in the face of violence, but including a sentence exhorting those responsible for older or sick perpetrators to “examine whether their sentences can be reduced.”
Twenty-five years ago this month, ethnic tensions in Rwanda boiled over as members of the Hutu ethnic majority took up machetes and turned on their minority Tutsi neighbors, friends, and colleagues, killing them based on the color of their skin and the width of their nose.