We Are Brothers and Sisters
MESSAGE OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS CONFERENCE OF NIGERIA TO THE GOVERNMENT OF RWANDA
As a Conference, we have nurtured the desire to come and identify with you, our brothers and sisters, since the unfortunate incidence of genocide here in Rwanda. We have sent our officials and donations. We give God the glory that we are here after several attempts.
The message that we bring to you, Mr. Prime Minister and the good people of Rwanda, is the message of peace, love and reconciliation that comes from Christ. We know that, many Rwandans have lost live, properties and relations. As members of the body of Christ, the Church, we are humiliated that some of the faithful and clergy even took part in the atrocities.
Nonetheless, the people of Rwanda have many reasons to be grateful to God. You are a homogenous people, blessed with unrivalled human and natural resources. God has blessed you with immense potentials to enable you conquer nature and live in peace. Much still remains to be done. Your country needs social and economic upliftment as a developing country. There is no doubt that many Rwandans remain traumatized and haunted by their experiences. But we cannot allow the past to enslave us. We must allow time to heal the scars, both physical and psychological. The words of Isaiah, the Prophet, at this period, should console us. He said,
The Lord waits to be gracious to you; therefore He exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of Justice; blessed are those who wait for Him. Yea, O people in Zion who dwell at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. And though the lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, this is the way, walk in it. (Is. 30: 18 – 25)
We note that the leadership in Rwanda is endowed with progressive leadership vision and mission needed to overcome the obstacles of development in this country. With minimal resources, the government continues to lead and drive ahead a difficult process of reconciliation. It can, therefore be rightly said that your greatest task has been your greatest achievement to date.
The challenge before you is the challenge of cooperation and solidarity with one another as you walk through the path of nationhood and as you make all the efforts to build your country and compete with other nations in our contemporary world.
We are pleased to note that your country Rwanda is a country transformed, full of vim and vigor. Your country is in most need of the collaboration and cooperation of every citizen, including the Catholic Church.
In effect, the Catholic Church, being one of the major Christian denominations in this country, has extra obligations to the people of Rwanda. The church has the requisite resources to uplift the hearts and minds of the people of this great country. The Catholic Church has a whole tradition of promoting integral human development and contributing to the service of the common good.
The Social Teaching of the Catholic Church compels members to work for peace and Justice. The Church needs appropriate platform in order to be able to develop effective framework for promoting integral human development and articulate the necessary prerequisites for contributing to the desires and hopes of the people of Rwanda.
In our interaction with the Catholic Bishops of Rwanda, we have underlined the need and the challenge of the social teaching of the Church, in the contemporary world, to create a world more human; where citizens feel a sense of belonging to their nations and participate actively in the service and promotion of social justice and the common good. This requires appropriate collaboration between government and the Church.
In the contemporary world, no citizen can afford to feel indifferent in matters that concern public good. We are all and each obliged to contribute to development and peace everywhere we find ourselves in our country.
Our prayer is that God, who has deigned to bring peace and reconciliation to this country, will sustain you in His goodness and grant you all that you require to bring your country to greater heights.
For us in Nigeria, we shall always join you in prayers as we commit you to Mary, the Queen of Peace.
+ F. A. Job
Archbishop of Ibadan and
President, Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria
Rev. Fr. Michael Ekpenyong
Secretary-General, Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria