From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[WCC News] Rwandan genocide: churches need to confess, Kobia

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Fri, 16 Apr 2004 15:33:22 +0200

World Council of Churches
Update PU-04-20
For Immediate Use
16 April 2004

Rwandan genocide: churches need to undertake collective

Free photos available, see below

Cf. Press Update PU-04-19 of 14 April 2004
Cf Press Update PU-04-18 of 8 April 2004

The need for churches to confess their collective failure in
addressing the Rwandan genocide when it erupted ten years ago is
part of the message that the general secretary of the World
Council of Churches (WCC), Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, is bringing to
Rwanda today. 

"We must confess that we failed to address the genocide when it
took place," Kobia said before leaving Kenya for Rwanda today.
"We could have used the moral authority of the church and spoken
out strongly, but we did not," he stated.  

Noting that 95% of Rwandans are Christians, the fact that the
genocide "was carried out by them" raises a critical question:
"Is our Christianity deep enough, or is it just skin deep in
Africa?" Kobia asked. 

Another question Africa will have to answer, he went on, is
"about ethnicity. On one hand, our ethnic identity brings riches
of diversity. But should that identity also be the source of our

Arriving today in Kigali, Kobia begins the second leg (16-18
April) of his first visit to Africa as WCC general secretary. The
first leg of the visit took Kobia to Kenya (8-15 April), where he
met the country's president, Mwai Kibaki, at the State house in
Nairobi on 14 April. 

Encouraging the churches to provide directions on how to move
forward on some of the difficult issues for his country,
President Kibaki said that church and state were complementary in
endeavours in areas like socio-economic development. 

While hailing the president's peace initiatives in the region,
and especially in Somalia and Sudan, Kobia expressed hope that
these efforts could produce concrete peace agreements in the two

Kibaki also commended the churches for their efforts to
sensitize people on the need to adopt behaviour that would halt
the spread of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Responding to that, Kobia
assured him that churches will continue to work ecumenically in
prevention and eradication of HIV/AIDS.   

Later the same day, the WCC general secretary visited the
headquarters of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC),
where he met AACC president Rev. Nyansako ni-Nku and general
secretary Rev. Dr H. Mvume Dandala. 

Referring to a stone from Lake Turkana in northern Kenya, where
palaeontologists believe human life began, Kobia spoke of Africa
as the birthplace of the humanity. The stone is kept at AACC
headquarters in Nairobi.

Earlier, during the meeting with the state president, Kobia had
stressed the very special place of Africa in the life and work of
the WCC. "Our historic contribution goes way back to the
struggles against apartheid in South Africa to the most recent
peace initiatives in Liberia and Sudan." 

At a thanksgiving worship held the same day at All Saints
Cathedral in Nairobi, representatives of African churches and
ecumenical organizations expressed their joy and satisfaction at
the election of "our brother and the son of this land" as the
first African general secretary of the WCC. 

During the service, the church and ecumenical representatives
commended Kobia and his wife Ruth to "serve the cause of life in
fullness and to promote justice and truth in the name of our Lord
Jesus Christ". They prayed to God to give the new WCC general
secretary "continuing guidance and inspiration," and to use him
"to promote unity of the church and to strengthen the oneness of
the ecumenical movement". 

Originally expected to be part of the WCC delegation visiting
Kenya and Rwanda, the WCC central committee moderator, His
Holiness Catholicos Aram I, was finally unable to join the

Free high-resolution photos of the visit available at:

For further information, please contact Juan Michel, WCC  media
relations officer,  tel: +41 22 791 6153, mobile +41 79 507 6363,  


The World Council of Churches (WCC) is a fellowship of churches,
now 342, in more than 100 countries in all continents from
virtually all Christian traditions. The Roman Catholic Church is
not a member church but works cooperatively with the WCC. The
highest governing body is the assembly, which meets approximately
every seven years. The WCC was formally inaugurated in 1948 in
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Its staff is headed by general
secretary Samuel Kobia from the Methodist Church in Kenya.

World Council of Churches
Media Relations Office
Tel: (41 22) 791 6153 / 791 6421
Fax: (41 22) 798 1346

PO Box 2100
1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

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