Rwanda’s President Rallies Citizens to Support Ministry of Country's First Cardinal

President Paul Kagame and Antoine Cardinal Kambanda during the Thanksgiving Mass celebrated in Kigali on Sunday, December 6.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame has rallied Rwandans to support the ministry of the country’s first Cardinal, Antoinne Kambanda, just as they have shared in the joy of his elevation to Cardinalate.

“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,” President Kagame said Sunday, December 6 during the thanksgiving ceremony of Cardinal Kambanda.

He added in reference to the Cardinal, “As we have shared in the honor and happiness, we also need to assist him in the responsibilities so that he can finish his ministry well.” 

Addressing the guests gathered at Kigali Arena for the thanksgiving Mass, the Rwandese Head of State noted that when a citizen of the East-Central Africa nation shines globally or locally for their “courage and commendable performance,” honor befalls the whole country.

“We thank the Pope for trusting him (Kambanda) and elevating him among his advisors. This decision is based on trust in his judgment and hard work that Kambanda showed in Rwanda and proof that he can get his contribution to the whole church in the world,” President Kagame said.


Addressing himself to the 62-year-old Cardinal, the President added, “The trust and dignity that the Pope has given you is also ours as Rwandans.” 

He went on to recognize the Catholic Church in Rwanda as a key partner of the country’s government in improving the lives of Rwandans through provision of social services such as health and education.

The collaboration “will continue and needs to be boosted with new energy based on the fact that Cardinal Kambanda has been put on another level of leadership,” President Kagame said.

He also expressed his appreciation for the growth of relations between Rwanda and the Vatican over the years and thanked the Holy Father for his willingness and desire to strengthen the ties by correcting the mistakes of the past, “which should not have happened in the first place.”

“The past has many lessons for us but we are now in the path of doing good things and collaboration will not or doesn’t stop until we get the good things we want,” the 63-year-old President said.

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On his part, Cardinal Kambanda who was made Cardinal on November 28 said that his elevation in the Church hierarchy is a comfort to God’s people in the landlocked country who have endured a turbulent 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,” the Cardinal who plans to prioritize family apostolate said.

He added, “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,” the Cardinal who was assigned the titular church of San Sisto.

Among those who attended the December 6 thanksgiving Mass included a delegation of Bishops and Clergy from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as well as religious leaders from Rwanda.