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The Catholic Diocese of Muyinga celebrated the Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation


Sep 25, 2022

MUYINGA September 21st (ABP) – The Catholic Diocese of Muyinga organized, on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at the Regina Pacis parish of Muramba, in Buhinyuza commune, Muyinga province (northeast of Burundi), a day for forgiveness and reconciliation between the survivors and the perpetrators of the 1993 and 1994 killings, a check on the site by ABP has revealed.

A procession of priests, religious and Christians from different parishes, led by the bishop of the Catholic diocese of Muyinga, Mgr Joachim Ntahondereye, headed towards the Queen of Martyrs sanctuary where more than 120 people are buried, victims of barbarism of September 4, 1994.

That was the moment of meditation and then the laying of wreaths by the bishop, the president of the Truth-Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Pierre Claver Ndayicariye, the representatives of those who had agreed to ask for forgiveness and those who were going to agree,

Shortly before the laying of the wreaths, the bishop of the diocese of Muyinga, Mgr Ntahondereye reminded the audience of the circumstances in which these martyrs were killed.

                                                                        Bishop Joachim Ntahondereye during his homily

On Sunday, September 4, 1994, while his predecessor, the late Bishop Jean-Berchimans Nterere, was officiating Mass on the occasion of the Sacrament of Confirmation, armed men burst in, opened fire in a packed church, shooting at direction of the bishop but also in the heap of Christians. The life of the prelate and that of the priest who celebrated the mass would be miraculously saved. That day more than 120 Christians lost their lives there.

In his homily, the bishop of the Muyinga diocese invited Christians to always listen to the voice of the Almighty, to walk in the truth in order to be able to forgive and reconcile.

During that mass, groups of people composed of survivors and those who committed the crime gave poignant testimonies of their bad days as victims and others as executioners.

On that occasion, the executioners asked the survivors for forgiveness and the latter granted it. They reconciled in front of the bishop, the priests, the religious, the TRC chairman and some of his close associates, but also in the presence of several hundred Christians.

Others testified to having protected the lives of their immediate neighbors who were threatened with death.

In his speech, the TRC thanked the Catholic Church which initiates these sessions of request for forgiveness and reconciliation before formulating the wish to see the same initiative in other Catholic dioceses of Burundi like those of Muyinga and Ruyigi.

He invited the Catholic Church to continue to teach the truth because it has been sorely lacking in our country, particularly in relation to the dark periods experienced by Burundi.

According to Mr. Ndayicariye, “these sessions of asking for forgiveness and reconciliation detraumatize the executioners and the survivors. They heal and liberate the bruised hearts”.

Note that this event coincided with the opening of the pastoral year 2022-203 in the Catholic diocese of Muyinga.