By Frederic Byumvuhore

President Paul Kagame called on religious groups to work with the government to do good things for the benefit of all.

The President made the remarks on Sunday, at the Kigali Arena, during a thanksgiving mass honoring His Eminence Cardinal Antoine Kambanda. The Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Rwanda was elevated to the rank of cardinal by Pope Francis on October 25 and officially created cardinal on November 28 during a service at St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in Rome.

Sunday’s ceremony was witnessed by the Pope’s envoy in Rwanda, senior government officials, and prominent leaders in the Catholic Church in Rwanda and in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

“Today, all Rwandans are pleased that the Catholic Church in Rwanda has got a cardinal in its history. This is the first time in 120 years. Whether 120 years could be a short or a long time depends on what anyone thinks. It never depends on year for good or bad to happen. Good is good, bad is bad no matter when. But for us over 120 years, we have become mature enough to distinguish good from bad. We are gathered here to give thanks to God for the gift we have seen over these 120 years,” Kagame noted.

He added, “We have Cardinal Kambanda as a Rwandan, a Rwandan child. He has risen from various ranks up to Cardinal Level. So, we thank Pope Francis for entrusting Kambanda and then elevating him to his close advisor. This trust can be attributed to insight and sincerity with which Kambanda carried out his mission in Rwanda. He showed he was able to contribute to the Catholic Church around the world.”

Speaking of the friendship between Rwanda and Vatican, Kagame said it had grown to a considerable level, thanking the Pope for his will to coordinate and promote it and for addressing past mistakes.

“He did this not only for Rwanda; obviously, he is the same to the whole world. We thank him for that,” the president added.

He again congratulated Cardinal Kambanda on his appointment and hoped he would work alongside others who had dedicated their time to work for the Catholic Church and Rwanda as well.

“This is his own pride and honor, and that of all Rwandans, regardless of our religious beliefs. If Rwandans are elevated to another level because of what they have achieved domestically or internationally, that is an achievement for us all,” Kagame pointed out.

He added that it was everyone’s responsibility to help Kambanda carry out his duties successfully.

The Catholic church in Rwanda

Kagame commended the Catholic Church for its role in the development of the country and for improving the welfare of citizens despite some obstacles.

“Throughout the long history of the Catholic Church in Rwanda, the domination has been an important partner in promoting the well-being of people in education, health and development. They carried out these activities in cooperation with government institutions and other religious groups. This partnership should continue and be strengthened,”

As for history, there are many obstacles that have shaken the national sovereignty. That’s not something we can spend our time on. We have learned from the past, we have come to understand what was lacking at the time; we work to ensure that we never face the similar history and continue to create an era of partnership and to create better living conditions for citizens.

Kagame said, “We are now in the journey of doing good things and enhancing cooperation. We started this journey more than 20 years ago, committed to doing good and increasing cooperation. There is no deadline for building what is good. This is what we do every time. There is a progress.”

Religious groups and government, all of us, should work together to do what we should do for the common benefits. All we have to do is engage everyone and remember that his support is vital to the common benefits.

The president pledged that the country would provide any support to help Kambanda carry out his duties.