Pope Francis says laypeople play a pivotal role in the task of evangelization and reconstruction faced by the Church in Rwanda.
The Pope said this today to the Rwandan bishops, in Rome for their ad limina visits.
Noting that in a few days (on April 7), Rwanda will mark the 20th anniversary of the 1994 outbreak of the genocide, Francis said, “I associate myself profoundly to the national mourning,” and he reflected, “Twenty years after those tragic events, reconciliation and the healing of wounds remain, certainly, the priority of the Church in Rwanda.”
“The forgiveness of offenses and genuine reconciliation, which might seem impossible from a human view after so much suffering, are nevertheless a gift that it is possible to receive from Christ, with faith and prayer, even if the path is long and calls for patience, mutual respect and dialogue,” he affirmed. “Hence, the Church has her place in the reconstruction of a reconciled Rwandan society, with all the dynamism of your faith and of Christian hope. Therefore, go forward resolutely, rendering ceaseless witness to the truth.
In discussing national reconciliation, he said to strengthen trust between Church and State, noting that the 50th anniversary of the start of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Rwanda was a perfect time to remember the benefits of this relationship during history.
“A constructive and genuine dialogue with the authorities can only encourage concerted work of reconcilation and the reconstruction of society based on the values of human dignity, justice and peace,” he said. “Be an ‘outreach’ Church, able to take initiatives and build trust.”
He underscored the essential contribution of the Church to the common good, especially in healthcare and education.
Regarding healthcare, he added that many dedicate themselves to victims of war, wounded in “body and soul.” He highlighted the contributions of those who help widows, orphans, the sick, and the elderly.
In regard to the education of youth, Francis said that it “is the key to the future of a country where the population is renewed rapidly.”
He continued, “Therefore, it is the duty of the Church to educate children and young people in the values of the Gospel which … will be, for them, a compass to show them the way. It is necessary for them to learn to be active and generous members of society, as the future is in their hands.”
He concluded his address by calling upon the Maternal protection of Mary. (D.C.L.)
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