The hope of many has just suffered a cruel blow. I’m referring to the hope of those of us who craved to believe that the new Argentinian Pope Francis would act not only as a willing servant of Christ and defender of the poor and marginalised but also as a lucid follower of the Jesus of history, condemned to death by the fifth prefect of the Roman province of Judea, Pontius Pilate, for bearing witness to the truth (John,18,37). A Jesus that didn’t allow himself to be caught up in the web of lies and manipulation of the powerful and who proclaimed the truth unequivocally and energetically.
Last Monday Pope Francis received, in the halls of the Vatican, with full honours, a firm handshake and an historic smile on his face, an authentic monster: Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda. It seems that the debate will never end about the position taken by Pius XII in the face of Nazism and, especially on the question of whether his silence over the Nazi genocide can be explained by fear of provoking reprisals and even graver consequences. But at least I have never had to look upon a picture of a such a cordial meeting between Pius XII and Adolf Hitler as the one that took place last Monday in the Vatican. The photo of the meeting between Paul Kagame and the successor to the one that Lord Jesus himself chose to confirm the other disciples in the faith (Luke 22, 31-32) is profoundly desolate and disturbing for those Christians who know of the reality that was lived, and lives yet in Rwanda and Congo.
As i will attempt to demonstrate in the second part of this article, the equation I make between Paul Kagame and Adolf Hitler is absolutely pertinent in as much as it refers to their respective responsibility for two of the greatest genocides of the twentieth century. The number of mortal victims in Rwanda, Burundi and Congo since 1990, which will have undoubtedly exceeded 10 million, doesn’t compare with the figure of approximately sixty million mortal victims of the second world war. But the figures that can really be compared are, on the one hand, the number of Jewish victims of the Nazi genocide (undoubtedly in excess of six million, without counting Gypsies, Soviet or Polish prisoners or other “asocial” people) and, on the other, that of the victims of the double genocide in Rwanda: the official genocide, that of the Tutsis, and the genocide of the Hutus, not recognised by the Western establishment despite being amply documented by judge Fernando Andreu, amongst many others, and to which the UN has awkwardly made occasional reference to.
And even worse: because of his interview with Paul Kagame, Pope Francis implored “God’s forgiveness for the sins and failings of the church and its members, amongst them priests, sisters and brothers who gave in to hate and violence, betraying their evangelical mission”. Then he added: “I wish to express my profound sorrow, from the Holy See and the entire Church, for the genocide committed against the Tutsis and express solidarity with the victims and all those who suffered as a result of these tragic events”. This is the policy of gestures of Pope Francis. Gestures which become superficial and even counterproductive when they are not based on a lucid vision of history and a clear analysis of events.
Falling into the trap of believing the official version of the Rwandan genocide, Pope Francis has humbly asked for forgiveness from the person who has the ultimate responsibility for both genocides as well as who gave the order to decapitate the leaders of the Rwandan Church and who gave the order to assassinate numerous missionaries and foreign collaborators, among them nine Spanish citizens. This version of a single genocide, that of the Tutsis, genocide as the collective responsibility of the entire Hutu race, a genocide planned by the Hutu “regime” of Juvénal Habyarimana… is what continues to sustain, year after year, a repressive regime in Rwanda and a permanent aggressor in the form of neighbouring Congo, a regime to which Pope Francis has just given his impassable backing. The falsehood of such a doctrine has even been demonstrated in the International Criminal Court, but Pope francis nonetheless has fallen for it.
Pope francis has just opted, as so many Popes has done over the course of history, for salon diplomacy. That of the salons of the Vatican State, so far removed from the real world of the victims. The salons through which pass so many Monsignors too easily influenced by the power and criteria of this world. Monsignors who seem to know much of diplomacy, institutions, laws and rituals but who appear to know nothing of empathy for victims and of mercy and compassion. The same thing that happened to the religious caste which appears in this Sunday’s gospel (John 9, 1-41), which relates the healing of a person who had been blind since birth to the blindness of a caste which, rather than rejoicing in this wonder, was instead scandalized that Jesus had performed it on a the Sabbath. These are the salons where Pope Francis has never once received the greatest victims of the Rwandan tragedy (for every Tutsi victim there were ten of Hutu origin, before even beginning to count the millions of Congolese, as I will expose in the second half of this article). What is more, he hasn’t received them despite our repeated petitions made in person by our mutual friend Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.
The very same rooms in which, on the other hand, he welcomed the sadistic assassin of millions of Rwandans and Congolese with that historic smile. The powerful lobbies, generously financed for years by Paul Kagame thanks to the scandalous pillaging of Congolese riches, have found a way to Pope francis and convince him. Once more the children of the shadows have been more astute than the sons of the light (Luke 16,8) or simply put, they have had access to far more money and power than us. Once more the power of money –the other ruler of our world– has triumphed (Matthew 6,24).
It is entirely possible that during the setting up of this meeting (which once again legitimizes the man whose image was becoming ever more associated with countless crimes) and during the twenty minutes that it lasted, behind closed doors, that certain negotiations and concessions were made. In fact, last Monday afternoon in Germany, Enoch Ruhigira, ex-director of the cabinet of the Hutu president (Juvénal Habyarimana), was freed without explanation. That same president who was assassinated, together with the president of Burundi and their respective retinue by Paul Kagame on the 6th of April 1994, and thus became the catalyst for the premeditated and deliberate genocide of the inland Tutsis by Hutu extremists. In order to gain power Paul Kagame chose a modus operandi whose principal strategies were born of provocation and chaos, as is documented by the antiterrorist French judge Jean Louis Bruguière in his dictamen of the 17th of November 2006. He sought the chaos which would justify military intervention and make any democratic resolution impossible. The democracy which was close to becoming a reality was one where his minority group would have had no access to power, the absolute power which was his sole objective.
But from my point of view, if the hypothesis of concessions made behind closed doors were true, the price paid has been too high: the betrayal of the truth, turning the main victims into collective perpetrators of genocide, the proclamation of the greatest perpetrator as the liberator… This path of shady deals has not been the path of the real heroine of this story, Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza. She followed Jesus’ path when brought before Pontius Pilate in his decisive moment. A moment in which he could have chosen freedom if he had been a little more “flexible”. For me, Victoire, the Rwandan Mandela, will always be a symbol of truth and the need to proclaim it out loud. Like Jesus of Nazareth or Monseñor Romero.
Standing before Pontius Pilate in his decisive hour, Jesus’ behaviour was so lacking in diplomacy and prudence that there are those who, choosing a more esoteric perspective over the scientific analysis of texts, claim that he provoked his own death, and incited Judas to betray him. In any case, what is certain is that when faced with Pilate’s question “So you are king?” (John 18, 37) Jesus could have easily avoided his death sentence by answering equally truthfully “No. I am a religious prophet, not a transient ruler belonging to this world”. Or even: “I am a spiritual king, not an earthly political one”. But, surprisingly, he gave a literal meaning to that which was merely an analogy: “Yes, you said it yourself, I am king”. And he did it consciously, knowing that this declaration would lead him to his death. Thus was his commitment to an all encompassing truth, greater than any diplomacy or any pretension to protect his life, a life where he would undoubtedly have carried out countless further good works.
That truth was an absolute for him is made very clear in the solemn words that he pronounced straight afterwards: “For this I was born, and for this I came to this world: to bear witness to the truth”. He had previously behaved in the same surprising and imprudent manner. When Caiaphas, the high priest, asked him “Are you Christ, the Son of the Lord?”, he replied “Yes, I am”. (Mark 14, 61-64). He answered in this way, despite knowing that in order to save his life it would have been enough to acknowledge himself as a prophet or even the Messiah. Regrettably there are very few Christians that have managed to take such acts into their hearts and follow the way of being of Jesus. Possibly, if today’s active Christians faced once again the dilemma of martyrdom, many would say to themselves:”Well, I will offer incense to the gods and then I can continue my good works, charitable projects, evangelizing…”
Victoire on the other hand, has followed both Christ’s example and his path. Before her dangerous return to Rwanda she prayed every day for two weeks in our little chapel and asked for inspiration from the Señora de S’Olivar. She explained to me her fear that, were she to be assassinated, there would be a new round of massacres. Her family, and Victoire herself, had accepted the possibility that she might be murdered; it was her destiny and her obligation, they felt. But they were concerned by the possibility of new outbreaks of violence were she to return to Rwanda and be assassinated like President Juvènal Habyarimana. I knew I wouldn’t be able to persuade her not to return; just the opposite in fact. The only thing I was able to offer her was a quote from Mahatma Gandhi which appears on our web page: “If just one person takes a step forward in life, the whole of humanity benefits. We must fulfill our duty and leave everything else in God’s hands.”
How will she feel now when she learns, in her cell, of the friendly meeting, the mutual smiles, of Pope Francisco and the criminal who eradicated her nation, who continues to oppress the Congo and who has imprisoned her in subhuman conditions? What will she feel when she learns that Christ’s very representative on earth has begged pardon for “the genocide of the Tutsis”, thus reaffirming the ideology of a single genocide, and supports the current system of oppression in Rwanda’s interior and the permanent aggression towards the neighbouring state of Congo? How will she feel, with her life and that of her family ruined, after spending six years in prison for daring to pray publicly for all victims whatever their ethnicity? What will she feel in the face of Pope Francis’ terrible, historic mistake which will forever scar a Church which repeats once again today in the Vatican the events of the Passion of Christ? Victoire’s “absurd, ineffectual” surrender, made freely according to God’s plan, coincides exactly with that of Jesus Christ: “Nobody can take my life away: I give it freely”. (John 10,18)
In the second part of this article, I will expose a series of contrasting events which will illustrate the degree of psychopathy and perversion of the man with whom the Pope has just shared a handshake; events which will help you to understand the magnitude of Paul Kagame’s crimes. For the moment, I am finishing this first part with a quote from an article which I wrote in June 2010, fruit of my utter indignation, when it was announced that Kagame had been named vice president, together with José Luís Rodríguez Zapatero, of the Millennium Objectives. It was this article, along with a number of diverse actions taken by many other colleagues, which influenced Zapatero’s decision not to meet Kagame:
“[Paul Kagame] It was he who, from October 1990, in an attempt to inspire terror in the Hutu nation and provoke the depopulation of a large part of Rwanda so that he should more easily seize power, ordered that hundreds of Hutu farmers should be quartered and hung with their own intestines. It was he who ordered the murder of nine Spanish citizens, witnesses of his crimes. It was he who gave the order for the murder of three bishops and the dozens of the people accompanying them, and when his henchmen doubted if they had heard his orders correctly said “I have already told you to get rid of that rubbish”. It was he who laughingly shot down dozens of civilians in a market place. It was he too who recently repented, in a speech, of having only murdered hundreds of thousands of Hutu refugees in the Congo, and of not having exterminated them entirely. He is certainly, as Filip Reyntjens [a respected and considered expert] says, along with other experts who know him well “the most serious criminal still at large” in our world. Anybody may find similar opinions in the edict issued by Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles on the 6th February 2008, in which he identified Kagame as the perpetrator of the most serious crimes possible, and issued warrants for the arrest of forty of his closest collaborators.”