From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
[WCC News] Kigali Covenant: solidarity with Rwanda
"WCC Media" <Media@wcc-coe.org>
Mon, 19 Apr 2004 17:23:41 +0200
World Council of Churches 7 Press Update
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 19/04/2004 - pu-04-22
Kigali Covenant: churches in solidarity with the people of Rwanda
Free photos available, see below
Cf. Press Update PU-04-21 of 19 April 2004
Cf. Press Update PU-04-20 of 16 April 2004
Cf. Press Update PU-04-19 of 14 April 2004
Cf Press Update PU-04-18 of 8 April 2004
An urgent call for resources to complete the task of restoration in
Rwanda, and recognition of the churches' failure to address the genocide
ten years ago are among the main results of an ecumenical workshop on
"Lasting peace in Africa" ending yesterday in Kigali. Participants also
highlighted sources of hope and courage.
The 16-18 April 2004 workshop, convened by the Protestant Council of
Rwanda and the Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Rwanda, the All Africa
Conference of Churches (AACC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) was
attended by church and ecumenical leaders from some 20 African countries.
The workshop's conclusions were summarized in a document - the Kigali
Covenant - read at a commemorative service held on Sunday evening at
Deeply touched by "the efforts of the Rwandan government, churches and
humanitarian agencies" to bring "solidarity and acts of healing to the
victims of the genocide," participants at the workshop noted that "more
resources are needed to complete the task of restoration".
Through the Covenant, they called "for a strong advocacy effort and
support of the healing process currently taking place" in Rwanda. "The
ecumenical family must undertake to assist in any way possible" the
victims of the genocide, they stated.
The document also recognizes and apologizes for the failure of the
ecumenical family. "We accept our guilt for inaction during the genocide
in Rwanda before God and offer our apology, as some Rwandan churches
[have already done], to the people of Rwanda," the document says.
Committing themselves to make sure that "never again should such a degree
of violence and crime against humanity be allowed to occur in any of our
countries," participants stressed the need to build "the capacity of our
churches in advocacy" and to be "proactive in the prevention of
They also challenged "the leadership of churches and governments to feed
the minds and souls of their people with love, peace and reconciliatory
messages so that painful experiences in human memory are not exploited".
At the same time, they committed themselves to "stand up and speak
against behaviour, pronouncements and practices that have the tendency to
set one group of people against another".
Facing the horror
The workshop participants were personally confronted with "the depth of
the horror" of "the dark hundred days" that the genocide lasted when they
visited the Ntarama Memorial (formerly a Roman Catholic chapel) and the
Kigali Memorial Centre.
"We saw the remnants of the genocide in the form of bones, skulls and
dilapidated clothing and personal belongings of babies, children, youth
and adults. [*] We also heard stories of women victims of the genocide
who were raped and who today are living with HIV/AIDS and bruised bodies;
child-headed households and totally handicapped persons."
These testimonies reminded them of the passion of Christ. "The abuse,
anger, tension, humiliation, trauma, pain and tears inherent in any
genocide experience like that of Rwanda remind us of the event leading to
the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ."
But they also found "hope and courage" within and among Rwandans who have
"embarked with determination [on] the process of reconstruction of
[their] country and reconciliation of its sons and daughters" . They were
therefore able also to "thank God for the victory of Easter - for
bringing us back to life, for bringing Rwanda back to life".
The Kigali Covenant was received for further study and implementation by
a joint delegation of the WCC and the AACC, headed by WCC general
secretary Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia and AACC president Rev. Nyansako ni-Nku,
which visited the country from 16-18 April.
Full text of the Kigali Covenant:
Free high-resolution photos of the visit available at:
For more information contact:
Media Relations Office
tel: (+41 22) 791 64 21 / (+41 22) 791 61 53
The World Council of Churches is a fellowship of churches, now 342, in
more than 120 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, Netherlands. Its staff is headed by
general secretary Samuel Kobia from the Methodist church in Kenya.
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