Symposium Focuses on Ways to Avoid Another Rwanda

Friars Minor Reflect on 10th Anniversary of Genocide

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ROME, APRIL 26, 2004 ( A symposium on inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation, reflecting on the 1994 Rwandan genocide, concluded that a new evangelization is among the elements needed to avoid another similar tragedy.

Father José Rodríguez Carballo, minister general of the Franciscan Friars Minor, asked for forgiveness «for all those circumstances in which, in the course of history, we have separated ourselves from the spirit of Christ and of his Gospel.» The Franciscans sponsored the symposium.

«We fix our gaze on Jesus Christ, our reconciliation, to reaffirm our profound conviction that peace, dialogue and reconciliation are possible,» the Franciscan superior said. He advocated «a new evangelization that will succeed in transforming our hearts.»

Father Rodríguez Carballo also called for the acceptance of racial and cultural differences as a «source of complementarity and enrichment.»

Noteworthy among the experiences mentioned was that of Bishop Giorgio Bertin of Djibouti who appealed to «the international community, including the Church, not to leave a people in difficulty alone, but to support it in the search for solutions.»

Bishop Bertin, who is also apostolic administrator of Mogadishu, Somalia, proposed various forms of action: «block illegal traffic; support Somalis who work to rebuild peace; pray; facilitate times for coming together; and stop those who favor divisions.»

Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, delivered the homily of the closing Mass at the April 16-18 symposium.

He said that the «Eucharist is the sacrament of purification and of love that must crown a process in which the memory, especially that which remembers hatred and war, finds spiritual reasons for its purification.»

The cardinal referred to the Rwandan genocide as «a frightening reality, … one of the most distressing events of the last century in which our faith has been sorely tried.»

Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, stressed the need for «inter-ethnic dialogue and reconciliation among peoples,» especially in Africa.

«In an ever more intolerant world, it is necessary to promote the meeting and dialogue of cultures and of peoples to build an authentic humanism,» said the archbishop emeritus of Conakry, Guinea.

To have a genuine dialogue, «it is necessary to overcome psychological stereotypes, to learn new methods, and to accept otherness,» Archbishop Sarah said.

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