The Cardinal-designate who is currently the Vice President of the Episcopal Conference of Rwanda (CEPR) and doubles as the Chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Justice and Peace (CEJP) is also the Chairman of the Rwanda Interfaith Council on Health (RICH).
He is known to have embraced Small Christian Communities (SCCs) as a way of being church.
“May all our SCCs celebrate that we have a new cardinal in Africa: Cardinal-elect Antoine Kambanda, the Archbishop of Kigali, Rwanda. He is a big supporter of the SCC Model of Church. He emphasizes SCC Formation and Grassroots Evangelism,” Fr. Joseph Healey, a member of the Maryknoll Society who is an expert on SCCs posted on his Facebook page October 25.
The Nairobi-based Cleric who prefers to be called “Mwanajumuiya Padre Joe” for his passion for Jumuiyas (Swahili for SCCs) added in reference to the Cardinal-elect, “He sent a Rwandese diocesan priest to Tangaza University College in Nairobi, Kenya to study for a Master's degree in Pastoral Theology with specialization in SCCs. Let us pray for and with our new cardinal.”
According to a statement from the Vatican, Cardinal-designate Kambanda is among nine of the new cardinals who are younger than 80 and have the right to participate in a future conclave.
The others include: Bishop Mario Grech, Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops; Bishop Marcello Semeraro, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington; Archbishop José Advincula of Capiz, Philippines; Archbishop Celestino Aós Braco of Santiago de Chile; Bishop Cornelius Sim, titular Bishop of Puzia di Numidia and Vicar Apostolic of Brunei, Kuala Lumpur; Archbishop Augusto Paolo Lojudice of Siena-Colle Val d’Elsa-Montalcino; and Fra Mauro Gambetti, Conventual Franciscan, Custodian of the Sacred Convent of Assisi.
Those above 80 include Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Archbishop Emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Mexico); former Apostolic Nuncio Silvano Tomasi, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household; and the Pastor of the Shrine of Divine Love, Father Enrico Feroci.
Cardinal-designate Kambanda is noted for his efforts in reconciliation, peace and justice in Rwanda, which is still recovering from the 1994 genocide.
Speaking at a Conference on Peace and Justice organized by the Catholic Church in Rwanda to mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide, Archbishop Kambanda expressed the commitment of the Church in ensuring that the reconciliation efforts are successful.
“25 years is a short period compared to the weight of what Rwandans experienced, but we shall continue to dedicate ourselves towards achieving the remaining journey and to be a light to others,” the Local Ordinary of Kigali Archdiocese said November 29.