Upcoming Conference in Rwanda Burundi Region (RWB)

REINVENTING THEOLOGY IN POST-GENOCIDE IN RWANDA: CHALLENGES AND HOPES

June 20-22, 2019
Urumuri Socio-cultural
Center (Centre Christus)
Kigali-Rwanda

 


By Marcel Uwineza, S.J.

This year, 2019, Rwanda commemorates twenty-five years after the genocide against the Tutsi. The Jesuits of Rwanda, in solidarity with the entire national community and in remembrance of their own members who perished at the very beginning of the genocide, have thus organized an international conference to reflect on the journey made so far both by the church and society and to investigate creative as well as constructive ways of reimagining, reinventing what it means to be the Church of Christ and reclaiming humanity in the land of Thousand Hills. Reflections on Rwanda’s tragic past cannot be restricted to a local enquiry.

The Church as a whole, in as much as it endorses responsibility in Rwandan history, needs to reflect on its engagement and envisage a broader perspective for its renewal. Indeed, the 1994 genocide and its aftermath have raised questions that challenge the very essence of the meaning of Church, theology in its multiple dimensions, the missionary enterprise, the mission of the Church, and the place of human dignity in our faith.

In his meeting with the woman at the well in Samaria (Jn 4:1-42), Jesus affirms that the ‘way’ he teaches accords no significance to a person’s race or ethnicity or culture or country. The 'way' Jesus teaches announces God’s exclusive power and desire to create and name us all as God’s own sons and daughters. If theology is to assist the Church in preaching this message of inclusive love, it must therefore reinvent itself in post-genocide Rwanda.

The task of rethinking what it means to be a church and restoring our fraternal identity as Christians in post-genocide Rwanda is thus crucial if theology is to make sense again. This is particularly imperative in as much as theology is compelled to reflect upon the very evils that have disfigured the Church’s image and people’s identity, namely the evils of sin, suffering, the indifference of bystanders, the increasing number of genocide deniers, the complexity of memory, the lack of credible and prophetic leadership that question our faith and invite a new way of theologizing. In brief, to re-imagine humanity, Church, and society in Rwanda are the critical issues that need to be reexamined in light of the memory of the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The conference brings together bishops, world-renowned theologians, and multidisciplinary experienced researchers who will help us reflect in depth how we can restore fundamental peace and rebuild lasting reconciliation as a church. Attending this conference will therefore be an opportunity to meet different people who share the same dream and vision, challenges and hopes for a better future of Rwanda. It is in this spirit that the Society of Jesus in Rwanda has found it crucial to mark this year’s commemoration by organizing a three-day theological conference to assess the journey of reconciliation and reconstruction, ponder its challenges and read the signs of hopes ahead for a renewed Rwanda. This initiative draws its inspiration from Pope Francis’ exhortation to the Rwandan Bishops, in particular, and the Rwandan faithful, at large, to rebuild the bonds of national and ecclesial unity. It is also a response to the newly proclaimed Society of Jesus’ Universal Apostolic Preferences, which call the Jesuits and their collaborators around the world “To walk with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.” Furthermore, it responds to the echo of the 36th General Congregation, which set the mission of Reconciliation and Justice (GC 36, decree 1) at the center of its priorities.

Fr. Marcel Uwineza, S.J. and Fr. Elisée Rutagambwa, S.J. serve as conveners of this conference. We hope you will find this conference and its reflections and proceedings to be engaging from different perspectives: history, pastoral, moral, biblical, ecclesiology, anthropology, legal, formation of ecclesial ministers, spirituality, and the problematic of reconciliation.

We are deeply grateful to our sponsors: RWB Region of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), different entities of Boston College, the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, and the Jesuit Conference of Africa and Madagascar. We hope this conference will offer an opportunity to foster the ministry of reconciliation in which we are engaged for “all our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died” (1 Cor 8:11). In addition, it is an occasion for the intellectual apostolate of the Society of Jesus to bring its resources to the service of the church of Rwanda.


“Ever to Love and Serve” Ignatius Loyola

 

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Conference information booklet

 

 

Conference program