Rwanda’s Catholic bishops apologize for genocide

Go Lean Commentary

Is mainstream religion a force for moral good in modern society … in the Caribbean? In Africa? Anywhere?

cu-blog-rwandas-catholic-bishops-apologize-for-genocide-photo-3This is a timely discussion right now as there are a lot of threats and dissension in the world, mostly spurred on by religious extremism; think: Islamic terrorists, Shia – Shiite conflicts, Hindu-India versus Muslim Pakistan, Anglicanism versus Catholicism in Northern Ireland. Many samples and examples abound. The case in point for this consideration is the religious-fueled genocide in Rwanda in 1994; see the country’s flag here.

The religious institutions have a tarnished record; not always being a force for moral good in society. They have betrayed the vows and values they are supposed to be committed to. Instead, they have become “drunk with the blood of so many innocent people”.

This reality and cautionary tale from Rwanda provides us a deep lesson, though of a religious nature. See this core scripture:

A mysterious name was written on her forehead: “Babylon the Great, Mother of All Prostitutes and Obscenities in the World.”
I could see that she was drunk–drunk with the blood of God’s holy people who were witnesses for Jesus. I stared at her in complete amazement. – Revelation 17:5 – 6; New Living Translation

Who/What is Babylon the Great? (See Appendix A below).

For one religious group founded in the Caribbean – Rastafarians – they assign the identity to the country of the United States of America. But most religious scholars assign the identity to the world’s orthodox religions.

Some theologians make a narrow accusation and declare that “there can be only one conclusion: The Vatican [(Roman Catholic Headquarters)] is the Mystery Babylon of Revelation; they relate that this false religious system that has deceived the people of the world that will be destroyed at the time of Armageddon”.

Whatever your faith, being associated with Babylon the Great is not a good thing. “She” has a vengeful reckoning in store.

As depicted in a previous blog-commentary, the religions of Christendom have a sullied past! Unfortunately that “past” is not only centuries ago, as chronicled in the recent experiences in 1994 with the Rwandan Ethnic Cleansing. This sad drama is in the news again, as the Roman Catholic Church has now just issued a formal apology for its actions and in-actions in those atrocities.

Considering the real history, they are guilty as charged; see the news story here:

Title: Rwanda: Catholic bishops apologize for role in genocide
By: Ignatius Ssuuna
KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — The Catholic Church in Rwanda apologized on Sunday for the church’s role in the 1994 genocide, saying it regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres.

cu-blog-rwandas-catholic-bishops-apologize-for-genocide-photo-2“We apologize for all the wrongs the church committed. We apologize on behalf of all Christians for all forms of wrongs we committed. We regret that church members violated (their) oath of allegiance to God’s commandments,” said the statement by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was read out in parishes across the country.

The statement acknowledged that church members planned, aided and executed the genocide, in which over 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists.

In the years since the genocide — which was sparked by a contentious plane crash that killed the then-president, a Hutu — the local church had resisted efforts by the government and groups of survivors to acknowledge the church’s complicity in mass murder, saying those church officials who committed crimes acted individually.

Many of the victims died at the hands of priests, clergymen and nuns, according to some accounts by survivors, and the Rwandan government says many died in the churches where they had sought refuge.

The bishops’ statement is seen as a positive development in Rwanda’s efforts at reconciliation.

“Forgive us for the crime of hate in the country to the extent of also hating our colleagues because of their ethnicity. We didn’t show that we are one family but instead killed each other,” the statement said.

The statement was timed to coincide with the formal end Sunday of the Holy Year of Mercy declared by Pope Francis to encourage greater reconciliation and forgiveness in his church and in the world, said Bishop Phillipe Rukamba, spokesman for the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

Tom Ndahiro, a Rwandan genocide researcher, said he hoped the church’s statement will encourage unity among Rwandans.

“I am also happy to learn that in their statement, bishops apologize for not having been able to avert the genocide,” he said.



Photo Caption – In this Sunday, April 6, 2014 file photo, Rwandan children listen and pray during a Sunday morning service at the Saint-Famille Catholic church, the scene of many killings during the 1994 genocide, in the capital Kigali, Rwanda. The Catholic Church in Rwanda apologized on Sunday, Nov. 20, 2016, for the church’s role in the 1994 genocide, saying it regretted the actions of those who participated in the massacres. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

The recap: “800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus were killed by Hutu extremists” during the Rwanda Holocaust in 1994. (This history was dramatized in the movie Hotel Rwanda; see Appendix B VIDEO below).

How does a community – like Rwanda in the foregoing – repent, forgive and reconcile from such a bad legacy?

“Confession is good for the soul”!

This commentary is part-and-parcel of the effort to reform and transform the Caribbean. We too, have some atrocities to reconcile. Plus we have many recent bad actions to reckon with. Think:

  • Haiti
  • Cuba
  • Guyana
  • Belize

The book Go Lean…Caribbean posits that any success in reforming and transforming the Caribbean must include a unified region – we need to be a Single Market – despite the 30 different member-states, 5 different colonial legacies and 4 different languages. We have a lot of differences – just like the differences of Hutus and Tutsis in Rwanda – and a history of dysfunction. We must consider the ancient and modern conflicts some member-states have had with others.

The book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU). A mission of the roadmap is to reverse the prior “human flight” and invite the Diaspora back to the homeland. Accepting that many people fled the Caribbean seeking refuge, means that we must mitigate these causes of prior distress; and reconcile them. “Old parties” returning to their communities can open a lot of “old wounds” – Rwanda never reconciled their Hutu-Tutsi conflicts before 1994. Therefore an additional mission is to facilitate formal reconciliations, much like the model in South Africa with the Truth & Reconciliation Commissions (TRC). This mission will assuage these Failed-State indicators and threats (Page 272):

  • “Revenge seeking” groups
  • Group Grievances

The foregoing article depicts a bad episode in history of Rwanda and the Catholic Church’s complexities. The best-practice is to repent, forgive and reconcile. Repentance would include desisting in the bad behavior, confession and making amends. Religious orthodoxy is responsible for a lot of harm in the world. To finally answer the opening question: Is mainstream religion a force for moral good in modern society … in the Caribbean?

The answer is: No!

The Go Lean movement (book and blogs) have identified many bad community ethos – fundamental character or spirit of a culture; the underlying sentiment that informs the beliefs, customs, or practices of a group or society; the dominant assumptions of a people or period – that the Caribbean region needs to desist, confess and make amends. Many of these are based on religious orthodoxy; consider:

The Go Lean movement (book and blogs) also details good-positive community ethos that the people of the region need to adopt. The motivating ethos underlying the Go Lean roadmap is the Greater Good. This is defined as “the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong” – Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), a British philosopher, jurist, and social reformer. What is ironic is the fact that the Greater Good ethos aligns with the true values of most of the orthodox religions identified above; such as this scripture:

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. – James 1:27; New Living Translation

This CU/Go Lean mission is to elevate society for Caribbean people in the Caribbean. There is the need to monitor the enforcement of human rights and stand “on guard” against movements towards Failed-State status. The Go Lean roadmap calls for the CU to assume that role. Using cutting edge delivery of best practices, the CU will employ strategies, tactics and implementations to impact its prime directives; identified with the following 3 statements:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion & create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety assurances and protect the region’s economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance to support these engines.

The Go Lean book speaks of the Caribbean as in crisis and posits that this crisis can be averted, that it is a “terrible thing to waste”. The Go Lean roadmap seeks to optimize the entire Caribbean economic/security/governance eco-system. This vision is defined early in the book (Page 12) in the following pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence:

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xii. Whereas the legacy in recent times in individual states may be that of ineffectual governance with no redress to higher authority, the accedence of this Federation will ensure accountability and escalation of the human and civil rights of the people for good governance, justice assurances, due process and the rule of law. As such, any threats of a “failed state” status for any member state must enact emergency measures on behalf of the Federation to protect the human, civil and property rights of the citizens, residents, allies, trading partners, and visitors of the affected member state and the Federation as a whole.

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states (for example: Haiti and Cuba) will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

The Go Lean book details a lot more, a series of assessments, community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to ensure a safe and just society in the Caribbean region:

Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influence Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Consequences of Choices Lie in the Future Page 21
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact Turn-Arounds Page 33
Community Ethos – Ways to Manage Reconciliations Page 34
Community Ethos – Ways to Promote Happiness Page 36
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Confederating a Non-Sovereign Union of 30 Member-states Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Keep the next generation at home; Repatriate Diaspora Page 46
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Truth & Reconciliation Courts Page 78
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Reasons to Repatriate Page 118
Anatomy of Advocacies Page 122
Planning – Ways to Improve Image Page 133
Planning – Improve Failed-State Indices Page 134
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Better Manage the Social Contract Page 170
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Justice – Truth & Reconciliation Commissions Page 177
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage Page 218
Appendix – Failed State Indicators & Definitions Page 271
Appendix – Dominican Republic’s Trujillo Regime – Ethnic Cleansing Page 306

The foregoing article conveys that the country of Rwanda is making efforts to come to grips with their atrocious past. This was not a Black-White conflict, but rather a Black-on-Black drama. This drama therefore relates to the Caribbean as we have majority Black populations in almost every Caribbean member-state. Now is the time for all of the Caribbean, the people and governing institutions, to lean-in for the empowerments described in the book Go Lean … Caribbean. There is reason to believe that we too can reform and transform our bad community ethos, as causes, advocacies and campaigns have shown success in previous societies. The Go Lean roadmap relates the experiences of how these single causes/advocacies have been forged throughout the world (Page 122 – Anatomy of Advocacies):

Frederick Douglass Abolition of African-American Slavery
Mohandas Gandhi Indian Independence
Dr. Martin Luther King African-American Civil Rights Movement
Nelson Mandela South Africa’s Anti-Apartheid
Cesar Chavez Migrant Farm Workers in the US
Candice Lightner Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)

The Caribbean can succeed too, in our efforts to improve the Caribbean community ethos. Consider this sample of previous blog-commentaries that delve into aspects of forging change in the Caribbean community ethos: Forging Change: Herd Mentality Proclaim ‘International Caribbean Day’ Respect for Minorities: Climate of Hate ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’ Repenting, Forgiving and Reconciling the Past A Lesson in History – Royal Charter: Truth & Consequence Success Recipe: Add Bacon to Eggs ‘Change the way you see the world; you change the world you see’ Forging a ‘National Sacrifice‘ Ethos ‘Only at the precipice, do they change’

The Go Lean movement wants to help reform and transform the Caribbean. We see the crisis; we recognize that status quo, including the root causes and influences. We perceive the harmful effects of the religious orthodoxy. Yet we do not want to ban religion! Just the opposite, we know that religion can be a force for moral good in society, when practiced right. But we also know that religion can give birth to extremist passions and foster the worst sentiments in the human psyche. This too is presented in the Bible:

1 “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. 2 For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God3 This is because they have never known the Father or me. 4 Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning…

A “Separation of Church and State” is the standard in the advanced democracies; this is now embedded in the implied Social Contract. Unfortunately this is not the norm in the Caribbean. Just consider these continued practices that demonstrate a highly charged religiosity in the region:

The Go Lean book defines the Social Contract as follows:

“Citizens surrender some of their freedoms and submit to the authority of the State in exchange for protection of remaining natural and legal rights” – Page 170.

The Caribbean Social Contract specifies that governments must protect their citizens, those in Christendom or not. Human rights assume a religious neutrality; even those who are “Spiritual But Not Religious” – see Appendix C below – must be respected and protected.

The vision for a new religiously neutral Caribbean specifies new community ethos for the homeland, one being the practice of reconciling conflicts from the past; to make an accounting (lay bare), repent, forgive and then hopefully forget the long history of human rights abuses. All of this heavy-lifting will contribute towards the effort to make the region a better homeland to live, work and play. We urge all to lean-in to this roadmap.

Closing exhortation about Babylon the Great:

Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her. – Revelation 18:4 – New Living Translation

Let him with ears, hear…

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!


Appendix A – Cultural importance of “Babylon”

Due to Babylon’s historical significance as well as references to it in the Bible, the word “Babylon” in various languages has acquired a generic meaning of a large, bustling diverse city. Examples include:

  • Babilonas (Lithuanian name for “Babylon”)—a real estate development in Lithuania.
  • Babylon is used in reggae music as a concept in the Rastafari belief system, denoting the materialistic capitalist world.
  • Babylon 5—a science fiction series about a multi-racial futuristic space station.
  • Babylon A.D. takes place in New York City, decades in the future.


Appendix B VIDEO – Hotel Rwanda (2004) – Official Movie Trailer –

Uploaded on Jun 18, 2011
Director: Terry George
Starring: Don Cheadle, Sophie Okonedo, Nick Nolte and Joaquin Phoenix.


Appendix C AUDIO Podcast – Spiritual But Not Religious –


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