Catholic Church apparently had its own role in the horrendous killings of Tutsi people in predominantly Christian Rwanda. Obviously priests, bishops and lay people belonged to either Hutu or Tutsi. During the holocaust the ethnic identity prevailed over the Christian morality. Some presbyters took part in atrocities against their opposing faction on their own personal account causing to kill many priests and faithful of both factions. On the other hand many priests used their churches to rescue vulnerable people of both the sides. Though the genocide was not sponsored by the church, the face of the Rwandan Church was marred as it did not do anything positive to stop the slaughter. Pope Francis asked pardon for Catholic priests who succumbed to hatred and violence.
Culture of hate, exclusion and othering is becoming a hallmark of Indian polity. Christians also are not immune to this terrible tendency. Recently some churches in India are found to be divided on financial, material and moral irregularities of their pastors. The communities are alienated on these real life issues and favour their preferred factions.
The groups use social media to maximise the spread of hate and false propaganda even hindering a fair investigation and evaluation of the reality. The uncritical laity immediately take partisan stand and take part in vilifying campaigns against their opponents. The language and public actions of those defending the church have touched a new low, contrary to Christian charity and effective witness. The pastors who are supposed to guide the faithful themselves create destructive messages in their eagerness to defend their side. Ilibagiza and Rwanda have much to teach them to emerge from internal and external divisions.
Christians and other minorities also need to be very alert about the planned agenda of propagating hate by communal forces for which they take any treacherous means. Many messages that seemingly align with minority’s positions are also cleverly created by the communal forces with an intention to precipitate polarised opinions. Peace lovers have to be aware of the big lobby strenuously working to sway public opinion for which they either appease or provoke their delicate religious sentiments. They shall not bite the baited hook.
The vocation of the Church and its faithful is to make this world a better place for themselves and others. Christian witness involves a righteousness that surpasses that of the non-believers. It is imperative for Christians to work for social justice and stand by the oppressed and the excluded. While working to improve social inequalities and harmony, communal and fascist forces may target the Christian institutions as was the case with the Missionaries of Charity recently. However even in their fight against social inequalities Christians shall be guided by Christ who said, “love those who hate you,” “pray for those who persecute you” and “you shall not curse your brother.” Christians are to work for a kingdom where its citizens “shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (Isaiah 2:4). They pray for a nation without war and sword.
This article was published in Indian Currents on 30th July 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 31