From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[WCC News] Ecumenical delegation on Africa's dilemmas,

From "WCC Media" <>
Date Wed, 21 Apr 2004 11:50:01 +0200

World Council of Churches 7 Press Update
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 21/04/2004 - pu-04-23

 WCC representatives speak on Africa's dilemmas and genocides of the 20th

 Free photos available, see below

 Cf. Press Update PU-04-22 of 19 April 2004
 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

"We are often unable to live like neighbours in mutual respect and
   affection in spite of humanity's enormous scientific and technological
   progress," said Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia in Kigali, Rwanda.

   The World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary was speaking at a
   Kigali workshop on "Hope for lasting peace in Africa", while heading an
   ecumenical delegation visiting Rwanda from 16-18 April 2004. Attended by
   church and ecumenical leaders from some 20 African countries, the
   workshop was convened by the Protestant Council of Rwanda and the
   Alliance of Evangelical Churches in Rwanda, the All Africa Conference of
   Churches (AACC) and the WCC.

   Kobia suggested that for Rwanda the challenge is how to transform the
   genocide into a new spirit in which neighbours are seen as fellow human
   beings whose life must be protected. The memory of the genocide will
   remain imprinted in people's minds for a long time; this memory must
   become morally able to interpret the events and identify what was lost
   without forgetting God's promise, he said.

   The question "Where was the church during the genocide?" needs to be
   asked, and a second closely related question is "What is the church?"
   Kobia said. As to where the church is today, he cited the example of
   Sierra Leone, where peace education is beginning, and said that the WCC
   sees its role as helping to set up such education programmes so that
   peace can become rooted in people's minds and hearts.

   The WCC general secretary offered workshop participants six principles
   whose observance, he said, could help restore legitimacy to Africa's
   institutions and bar the way to murderous ideologies.

   The continent, he said, must learn to live with its history and
   understand the causes of its various conflicts, including the Rwandan
   genocide. It must learn to transform painful memory into a positive
   memory of God's promise. It must reaffirm human dignity based on the
   biblical understanding of the sacredness of the human being and the
   promise of a re-created society.

   Further, Africans should relativize identity issues and learn to see
   people from other ethnic groups as a richness rather than as rivals or
   dangerous opponents. Citing Europe as an example, he said they should
   understand that people can communicate well across barriers. And
   finally, because most conflicts on the continent are caused by bad
   governance, Africans need to strive for good governance, Kobia said.

   Justice is needed for reconciliation

   The conclusions of the ecumenical workshop were summarized in a document
   - the Kigali Covenant - read at a service at the Kigali stadium on
   Sunday evening 18 April. In a message delivered during the service by
   his representative, Father Krikor Chiftjian, the moderator of the WCC
   central committee, His Holiness Aram I, emphasized that justice must be
   part of the process of peace, reconciliation and forgiveness.

   Underlining that the 20th century was the most violent century in human
   history, marked by genocides and mass killings, he called on the
   churches and the international community to ensure that genocides of the
   20th century were properly acknowledged and justice offered to the

   On its arrival from Nairobi the ecumenical delegation was received by
   Bernard Makuza the prime minister of Rwanda. The delegation told the
   prime minister that it had come to his country to convey the ecumenical
   community's solidarity with the people of Rwanda, and to ask for
   forgiveness for having failed to denounce the genocide with enough force
   while it was happening.

   A speaker at the ecumenical workshop, Rwanda's minister of Justice Eda
   Mukabagwiza said that while the government has set up mechanisms of
   rehabilitation and reconciliation, the country needs support in order to
   regain its "lost humanity". The international community must counteract
   genocidal ideologies and establish international mechanisms capable of
   rapid intervention when necessary, she said.

   Speaking at the service at the Kigali stadium, Rwanda's minister of
   Foreign Affairs, Charles Murigande, praised the participants'
   determination to oppose genocidal ideas on their return to their home
   countries, their willingness to admit failures regarding the genocide,
   and their commitment to support the survivors.

   Full text of the Kigali Covenant:   (English)  (French)

   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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