H.E. Andrzej Józwowicz to His Eminence Cardinal ANTOINE KAMBANDA at the Solemn Mass in Kigali on December 6th, 2020


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Your Excellency, Mr. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda,
Your Eminence, Cardinal ANTOINE KAMBANDA, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kigali, Dear confrere Bishops of Rwanda and Congo,
Distinguished Representatives of political, civil and military authorities,
Your Excellencies, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies representing other religious confessions,
Reverend priests, religious men and women,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ ! Kristu Yezu Akuzwe !

This solemn Mass of thanksgivings for the nomination as Cardinal of His Eminence Antoine Kambanda, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kigali, which the Rwandan catholic community celebrates in the presence of the Head of State, is undoubtedly a great and glorious moment of joy, not only for all the faithful of the Catholic church, but also for the whole of Rwandan society.

Pope Francis has always attached very much importance to the Catholic Church’s universality as well as the important role played by smaller local Churches, such as the one in Rwanda, which manifest the universality of the Catholic Church in the whole world. The choice the Pope made to confer the honor of being a Cardinal to the Metropolitan Archbishop of Kigali, Antoine Kambanda, as the first Cardinal in the history of the young catholic Church in Rwanda, goes to show his particular esteem and proximity with the Rwandan people, and his fatherly interest and encouragement for the evangelizing mission of the Catholic Church in Rwanda.

The fact that Pope Francis chose a son of this country to become one of his closest advisors and collaborators and one who suffered so much during the genocide against Tutsis in 1994, when his family was exterminated, is ample proof of his special consideration and esteem for his person as well as his encouragement and support for the Rwandan Church and Society that have been trying for about 3 decades to rebuild together a better common home for all Rwandans, with a long and tiring process of forgiveness and reconciliation.

Dear Eminence, I think that in this days many Rwandans have their eyes fixed on you in the hope that you will help us live and dream of a Church whose first and greatest passion is serving the Lord Jesus, a Church truly missionary, open to loyal and frank confrontations, and to dialogue with all groups of Rwandan society, whether they are political authorities or with believers of other religious confessions as well as with every man or woman of good will who aspire to find peace and prosperity for all. Our faithful also expect to find in you – as close collaborator of the Pope – a Church whose way of governing be marked by a style and decisions inspired by the Gospel, a Church which is peaceful and full of good will and whose main preoccupation be for poor and rejected persons, a Church which seeks to convince and persuade rather than impose, led by a Good Shepherd who walks in front of his flock protecting and defending courageously and with competence the faithful from all dangers and evils with the generosity of a Father.

In order to achieve all this, it would be well for you to recall Pope Francis’ wise words to always walk on the road of Jesus and which he addressed to the Cardinals during the inaugural Mass of the last Consistory in the Basilica of Saint Peter in the Vatican : “Dear brothers, all of us love Jesus, all of us want to follow him, yet we must always be careful to remain on the road. For our bodies can be with him, but our hearts can wander far afield and so lead us off the road. We can think of so many kinds of corruption in the priestly life. The scarlet of a Cardinal’s robes, which is the color of blood and martyrdom, can, for a worldly spirit, also become the color of a secular “eminence”. In that case, you will no longer be a shepherd who is close to his people. You will simply think that you are an “eminence”. Once you feel that way, you are already off the road”.
Dear Eminence, what we wish the most for you is that the Pope’s choice in naming you Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, may give to the Church in Rwanda a renewed impulse and a greater commitment to fidelity to the Gospel and a stimulus to make of our civil and Church Community an example of brotherly solidarity and an encouraging future for the coming generations in Rwanda.

May the Lord Jesus Christ pour his many graces and blessings upon you and may Our Lady of the Word "NyinawaJambo" intercede in your favor and always protect you with her motherly Love ! Imana ibahe umugisha !

Archbishop Andrzej Józwowicz
Apostolic Nuncio