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Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches?

Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches?
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Edited book , Index , Notes , Bibliography , Photos
$18.95 (18.95)
"Highly recommended. All levels."
Choice, March 2005

"I cannot praise Genocide in Rwanda highly enough. ...there is nothing else like it. This is a book that sheds light not only on genocide but also on the devastating, albeit largely unintended, political, social, and demographic consequences of the uninvited impact of western civilization on the cultures of Africa."
—Richard L. Rubenstein, Ph.D., Holocaust scholar and author of After Auschwitz, My Brother Paul, and The Age of Triage.

"It is this kind of candor, commitment to social justice and call for institutional responsibility that our world so desperately needs at this moment."
The MAST Journal

"The editors are among the most distinguished experts in genocide studies....excellent volume..."
American Foreign Policy Interests

"...makes an important contribution to the story of Rwanda by identifying the powerful role the Christian churches have in influencing the moral and ethical behaviour of their people."
The Ecumenist

"Once again, Christians must examine their role, the role of their churches and the complicity of their ordained leaders in genocide. The authors of these essays do not look away. They offer the compelling and challenging critique demanded by the memory of the victims, the suffering of the survivors, and the work of the generations that must rebuild post-genocide Rwanda. Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches? cuts to the heart of the matter, to the abuses used to justify crimes against humanity, and is must reading for every prelate and bishop, pastor and seminarian, theologian and human rights advocate concerned with ending once and for all any Christian involvement in genocide, save to actively and consistently resist it."
—Douglas K. Huneke, author of The Moses of Rovno, and The Stones Will Cry Out: Pastoral Reflections on the Shoah, is the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Tiburon, California.

"Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches? is the result of a provocative exchange of scholars, journalists, priests, nuns, and human rights activists exploring the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Each essay invites the reader to consider anew the complicity of too many of the Christian churches in that genocide. It makes for sober reading."
—Anne Elizabeth McLaughlin, RSM, a Roman Catholic nun, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at College Misericordia in Dallas, Pennsylvania.

"This thorough and shocking anthology of essays and documents, skillfully assembled by three distinguished champions of human rights, will be an invaluable supplement to the seminal work of Philip Gourevitch and Samantha Power on the Rwandan genocide of 1994. It raises disturbing but essential questions about the response of Christian churches in a predominantly Christian nation. I recommend it to all those seeking an understanding of this still neglected genocide in East Africa."
—Paul Lyons, author of The People of This Generation: The Rise and Fall of the New Left in Philadelphia, teaches in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

In 1994, genocide put Rwanda on the map for most of the world. It also exposed one of the most shameful scandals of the Rwandan churches—the complicity of the Christian churches in the genocide. These are strong words to use when speaking about an institution committed to preaching and practicing Jesus’ “two great commandments”—Thou shalt love the Lord your God with your whole heart and mind, and thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself—and yet, they need to be said. Why? Because Rwanda is the most Christian country in Africa. More than 90% of its people are baptized Christians, with the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches having the greatest number of adherents (65% and 20% respectively).

According to Hugh McCullum, a journalist who has written about the 1994 genocide, “The genocide shook the very foundation of the churches: none remained without blood on its hands.”

According to Archbishop Desmond, “The story of Rwanda shows both sides of our humanity. The churches were sometimes quite superb in what they did in the face of intimidation and at great cost to themselves. But there were other times when [they] failed dismally and seemed to be implicated in ways that have left many disillusioned, disgruntled and angry with the churches and their leadership, Many have been alienated and feel badly betrayed.”

What is it that happened in Rwanda between April and July 1994 that has left so many Rwandans “disillusioned, disgruntled and angry with the churches and their leadership”?

Genocide in Rwanda: Complicity of the Churches provides a variety of perspectives through which to assess the complex questions and issues surrounding the topic, and, even raise some new questions that could provide some new insight into this historical event. Contributors have tried to face as carefully, sensitively, and honestly as possible some of the questions about the Church and 1994 genocide in Rwanda many have been asking in the media, and in other places as well. For example, Why were priests ethno-biased? Why did the churches allow clerics to preach ethno-hatred? Did they? What about the nuns and priests who assisted in the killing of Tutsis? Did the Roman Catholic Church, the Pope or the Vatican or did the Church of England — the two Christian denominations with the largest number of adherents — speak out against them? Did the Church protect, reprimand, punish, excommunicate their adherents — clergy, religious, and lay — who were genocidaires before, during, and after the 1994 genocide? Were leaders in the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches, at the highest levels, active or passive? informed or ignorant about what was happening in Rwanda in 1994? Did God have any witnesses during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda? Has anything changed? Do the Churches have a moral duty to engage in tikkun olam, healing and repair? If so, how? If not, why not?

These, are only some of the questions and they are questions we must ask for the sake of the future. Otherwise, how can the Church, its members and its leadership, begin to make moral restitution, begin to change structures and behaviors, and once again reveal the human face of God in our fragile world?



1. Religion and the Rwandan Genocide: Some Preliminary Considerations
Hubert G. Locke
2. Genocide in Rwanda 1994 - An Anglican Perspective Roger W. Bowen
3. The Church and the Genocide in Rwanda
Octave Ugirashebuja
4. From Division to Reconciliation: A Required Itinerary for the Rwandan Catholic Church
ElisŽe Rutagambwa
5. The Church and Power: Responses to Genocide and Massive Human Rights Abuses in Comparative Perspective
Jerry Fowler

6. The Failure to Confront Evil - A Collective Responsibility: A Personal Reflection
Charles Petrie
7. Rwanda - 100 Days - 1994: One Perspective
Marie Julianne Farrington
8. Memory Never Forgets Miracles
Philippe Gaillard
9. The Church and the Rwandan Tragedy of 1994: A Personal View
Marie CŽsarie Mukarwego

10. Genocide and the Church in Rwanda: An Interview with Tom O'Hara, C.S.C.
Carol Rittner
11. The Christian Churches and the Construction of a Genocidal Mentality in Rwanda
Matthias Bj¿rnlund, Eric Markusen, Peter Steenberg, Rafiki Ubaldo
12. The Rwandan Genocide and the British Religious Press - Roman Catholic, Anglican and Baptist
Margaret Brearley
13.Churches as Memorial Sites: A Photo Essay
James M. Smith and Carol Rittner

14. From Kibeho to Medjugorje: The Catholic Church and Ethno-Nationalist Movements and Regimes
LŽon D. Saur
15. The Church's Blind Eye to Genocide in Rwanda
Tom Ndahiro
16. Two Convicted Rwandan Nuns
Martin (Francois) Neyt
17. Why the Churches Were Complicit: Confessions of a Broken-Hearted Christian
David P. Gushee

Excerpts from Selected Documents