ALL AFRICA REPORT: The Catholic Church of Rwanda yesterday distanced itself from the divisive remarks by the two catholic priests, Thomas Nahimana and Fortunatus Rudakemwa.
The remarks that were characterised by ethnic divisive language were published recently on the priests' website, Leprophete, and according to church officials, they are unholy.
Bishop Jean Damascene Bimenyimana of Cyangugu Diocese said that he made the proclamation to Christians in his diocese not to listen to the two priests' "negative ideologies on Rwanda."
Bimenyimana was speaking during a press conference organised by the Ministry of Local Government and the Catholic Church to discuss a partnership between them.
The meeting was held at the Episcopal Church headquarters in Kigali.
He dismissed claims by Nahimana and Rudakemwa that they left the country to further their studies.
"Rudakemwa said that he was going to visit relatives and come back. On reaching there, he called me saying that would not come because he was not safe in Rwanda," said Bimenyimana.
Nahimana, Bimenyimana said, fled the country without the notice of the church.
"By the time we learnt of his plans to flee Nahimana was already on the plane," Bimenyimana said.
Nahimana, a former priest at Muyange Parish in Nyamasheke District, fled the country in 2005 and he is currently said to be based in France.
He is alleged to have fled the country after embezzling large sums of money from ASOFI Sangwa Muyange Microfinance.
The funds were meant to cover medical insurance for girls in Muyange Parish.
Bimenyimana also said that a decision to excommunicate both Nahimana and Rudakemwa "will be decided by higher authorities of the church."
The two controversial priests have been instigating divisionism and promoting the Genocide ideology on their website.
Bishop Smaragde Mbonyintege, the president of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Rwanda, said that the two priests should be pursued to face justice like other Rwandans.
"They should be prosecuted like any other Rwandans who violate the law but not as Catholic priests," Mbonyinege noted.The Episcopal Conference is the supreme body of the Catholic Church in Rwanda.
James Musoni, the Local Government Minister, said that the law regards everyone "and should be obeyed", explaining that religions, particularly the Catholic Church, are part of its development partners.
He commended them for their support in several sectors like education and health, and called for further partnership to realise the country's targets.
Meanwhile, Mbonyintege requested that some Catholic Church facilities in Kigali City, such as St. Famille be integrated into the city Master Plan because of their historical importance.