Rwandan Catholic Church seeks to silence Hutu priests
Rwanda's Catholic Church said Friday it had asked its French and Italian counterparts to stop two Rwandan priests living in Europe publishing material it claimed denies the 1994 genocide of Tutsis.
The men, Thomas Nahimana in France and Fortunatus Rudakemwa in Italy, are both of the majority Hutu ethnicity and originally from Cyangugu diocese in southwest Rwanda.
They have launched a website, www.leprophete.fr, attacking the government of President Paul Kagame and honouring the memory of Hutus killed by his Rwandan Patriotic Front, a former rebel group now in power.
Kagame has ruled the small east African country since his forces stopped the 1994 genocide against his Tutsi minority that killed some 800,000 people in a 100-day genocidal spree.
The bishop of Cyangugu, Jean-Damascene Bimenyimana, who has already distanced himself from the two men, "wrote to the bishops of the dioceses where they reside in France and Italy, to ask them to put and end to this", the Rwandan Catholic Church said on its website, accusing the two of sowing division.
"These priests are neither mandated nor supported by the Catholic Church," the website quoted the bishop as saying, while the president of the Rwandan episcopal conference, Smaragde Monyintege, was reported as saying they should be "prosecuted like all Rwandans who violate the law".
Denial of the genocide that targeted Tutsis and moderate Hutus is a crime punishable under Rwandan law.
© 2011 AFP