President Kagame has rallied Rwandans to support Antoine Kambanda in his new responsibilities as Cardinal within the Catholic Church.
Kagame was speaking on Sunday December 6 during a thanksgiving mass organised by the church to celebrate the achievement of Cardinalship, the first to be earned in the country.
The service, which took place at Kigali Arena, was attended by a number of catholic dignitaries from within the country and outside.
Addressing the congregants, Kagame said Kambanda’s Cardinalship is a great honour for him (Kambanda), for Rwanda, and for all Rwandans; and as they share the joy of the development, they should also realise the need to support him in his new responsibility,
“Today, all of us Rwandans have great joy because the Catholic Church of Rwanda has a Cardinal. It’s the first time this has happened in the last 120 years,” he said.
“As we have shared in the honour and happiness, we also need to assist him in the responsibilities so that he can finish his ministry well,” he added.
“When a Rwandan rises through the ranks because of his or her proven courage and commendable performances, be it in Rwanda or on the international stage, we are all happy. The trust and dignity that the Pope has given you is also ours as Rwandans.”
Among the responsibilities of cardinals is that they are close advisors to the Pope; in addition to their being responsible for the Catholic Church on an international level.
Kagame appreciated Pope Francis for the trust bestowed upon Cardinal Kambanda, saying it is founded on the wise judgement and proven commitment throughout his service to the Church in Rwanda.
The President also recognised the Catholic Church as a longtime partner with the government in improving the wellbeing of Rwandans through education, health, and development in general, as he promised that the partnership will continue, and more will be invested into it.
He said the relations between Rwanda and the Vatican have grown to a commendable extent, as he thanked Pope Francis for continuing to show willingness to strengthen the relations by correcting the mistakes of the past, “which should not have happened in the first place.”
On his part, Cardinal Kambanda said that Pope Francis has given Rwanda a Cardinal, and sent him with a message of comfort to God’s family that has encountered sorrows in the past.
“In our country and region, we encountered a poor history, to an extent of the Genocide against the Tutsi. People wondered whether God had forgotten them. But God sees all the sorrows we encounter,” he said.
“Dear servants of God, let us pay attention to the Christians and all people, listen to their sorrows and comfort them. Leaders in all institutions, pay attention to those that you are leading, listen to their sorrows and comfort them. Parents and educators, pay attention to the children and youths, listen to their sorrows, fears and doubts and comfort them,” he said.
“The message I bring is to inform the family of God that God loves them, and has loved them exquisitely. No matter how things go; even if we are in sorrows, God has not abandoned us. God loves us more than we know it, and cares for us more than we think.”
Among those that attended included a delegation of Catholic bishops and other clerics from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Also in attendance were religious leaders from other denominations in the country.