Your Eminence Antoine Cardinal Kambanda, Archbishop of Kigali;
Leaders of high institutions in our country;
Excellency Madira Masanguka, Archbishop of Kananga and President of the Episcopal Conference of Central Africa;
Excellency Philippe Rukamba, Bishop of Butare and President of the Espicopal Conference of Rwanda;
Excellency Monsignor Andrzej Józwowicz, Apostolic Nuncio to Rwanda;
Rwandan Bishops and our friends, the bishops from the Democratic Republic of Congo;
Men and women religious here present, distinguished guests and Rwandans here present as well as those who are following us from afar;
I would like to start by greeting you all!
Today, we, Rwandans, are delighted that the Rwandan Catholic Church has got a Cardinal. As it was mentioned earlier, it is the first time in 120 years. One hundred and twenty years may be a short period of time or a long one depending on what you’re referring to. It was also mentioned, and we already know it, the Catholic Church is very old, thousands of years. Therefore, if you are 120 years old in this context, you are very young.
But good or evil does not depend on time. Good is good wherever it occurs, and evil is evil wherever it happens. But we see ourselves as those who have a one-hundred-year old church. In those 120 years, we have matured enough to be able to tell good from evil.
We are gathered here to thank God for this gift bestowed upon us in these 120 years. First of all, we have Cardinal Kambanda as a Rwandan, a son of Rwanda. When he grew up, God called him to serve as priest. Later, he raised him and made him a bishop. And now, he has elevated him to the level of a Cardinal.
We thank His Holiness Pope Francis for his confidence in Cardinal Kambanda, and calling him to serve amongst his closest advisors. That trust is founded on the wisdom and commitment that Cardinal Kambanda has shown in fulfilling his mission in Rwanda. He has proven that he is capable of contributing to the Church globally.
Relations between Rwanda and the Vatican have now grown to a commendable stage. We also thank Pope Francis who continues to show willingness to strengthen those relations, by correcting the mistakes made in the past that should not have happened in the first place. It is obvious that His Holiness does this not only for Rwanda but also for other countries across the world. We thank him for that.
We congratulate you, Cardinal Kambanda, on your elevation to this level and we trust that you will, together with others, continue to efficiently serve the Church, the country, and Rwandans in general. This is an honour and source of pride to you personally, but also to us as Rwandans, regardless of our religious beliefs.
When a Rwandan rises through the ranks because of their proven capability and commendable performance, be it in Rwanda or on the international stage, we are all happy. The trust placed in them and dignity this gives them also become ours. They are the epitome of integrity, commitment and excellence (Intore) in their duties and responsibilities, but also a proud son or daughter of our country, Rwanda. I trust that this will help Cardinal Kambanda to fulfil what God wants from him, and what Rwandans in general expect from the Catholic Church.
As we all share in his joy and honour, we also be prepared to support him in these new responsibilities, and help him deliver what is expected of him.
In the long and rich history of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, it has been a great partner in improving the wellbeing of Rwandans through education, health, as well as development in general. The Catholic Church has worked in collaboration with public institutions, with Rwandans, and with other religious institutions in implementing all these activities. This partnership continues and we should invest more efforts into it as we have now got leaders at a higher level, such as Kambanda who has been elevated to the level of Cardinal.
The fact that the history of Rwanda and the Church was marked by some mistakes and diverse setbacks that resulted in disruptions in our life as a country; that is not something we should focus on. I think that we have learned our lessons. We have understood what was lacking back then, and we are now looking for anything that can help us ensure that it doesn’t happen again. We are now making strides forward, to a life that promotes partnership in building our country and improving the wellbeing of its citizens.
I hope that Cardinal Kambanda and those that will be working with him, based even on his personal history as it was mentioned, and the history I have just referred to, that history carries plenty of lessons on the evil that befell us and that should not have happened in the first place. We have been on a path of doing good, of partnership, in the last 20 years or more. We have been on this journey for quite some time.
Wanting to do well, to do good, to work with others, to rebuild, doesn’t stop. There is never a time where people feel like they have reached their desired progress. It is something that has to continue all the time.
We have made some progress. Let us continue to move forward to reach our desired goal of rebuilding our people, our life, our religious institutions, our churches, our government. All of us together, let us keep on trying to do the right thing that we should be doing, and that benefits us all; and doing it with an understanding that it belongs to all of us, that all of us can make our contribution, that we all benefit, and that it doesn’t belong to only a select few.
All that – to Cardinal Kambanda and other Catholic Church leaders who are here, as well as the Vatican – as I have said, even looking at what is being done, starting by what Pope Francis has been showing us as his priorities, we can also make our contribution to fast-track the process, for the good to prosper as we leave behind the bad, and thus building the Catholic Church, building Rwanda, partnering between ourselves, and working with other religious faiths.
As I conclude, I would like to wish all Christians, the leaders of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions, and Rwandans, prosperity. All our best wishes go to Cardinal Kambanda. Today was his day to celebrate and we congratulate him on this achievement, but also remind him that this comes with even more responsibilities. His duties and responsibilities have probably doubled. As the years passed and he rose to higher ranks, his responsibilities also continued to grow. We will continue to support you, to support the Catholic Church and its partners, so as to reach our desired goals.
I would like to thank you all for this opportunity, for the invitation, and assure you of our continued collaboration as I have said.
May the Peace of God be with you all!