Cardinal in Rwanda Appointed to Vatican’s Propaganda Fide

Antoine Cardinal Kambanda.

Rwanda’s Cardinal has been appointed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (CEP), whose members are responsible for coordinating the church’s missionary work.

In a message published Wednesday, December 16 by the Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis announced the appointment of the Archbishop of Kigali, Antoine Cardinal Kambanda to the Vatican-based Congregation that is also known as Propaganda Fide. 

The Rwandese Prelate was made Cardinal alongside 12 others during the November 28 consistory, making him the first ever Cardinal in the landlocked nation in the Great Rift Valley located at the convergence between African Great Lakes region and East Africa. 

In the December 16 publication, the Holy Father also announced the appointment of seven other Cardinals to various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia. 

Born in November 1958, Cardinal Kambanda who studied in Burundi, Uganda and Kenya was ordained a Priest on September 8, 1990 by St. John Paul II in his native Archdiocese of Kigali during the Pontiff’s visit to Rwanda. 


He was appointed Bishop of Kibungo Diocese in 2013 where he served for five years, until his transfer and elevation as Archbishop of Kigali in 2018. His episcopal motto is “Ut vitam habeant’’ (That They May Have Life). 

In an interview with EWTN News Nightly a couple of days after he was made a Cardinal, the 62-year-old Prelate said he would continue to prioritize family apostolate in what he described as the rebuilding of “internal structures” that Rwanda requires.

“It is something we are working upon because the family is the domestic Church and the family is the foundation of the society to prepare the lasting peace in the future,” Cardinal Kambanda who termed his elevation to Cardinalate as a big surprise, which he did not expect told EWTN News Nightly November 30.

Speaking during a thanksgiving Mass at Kigali Arena on December 6, the Cardinal said 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 is known to have embraced Small Christian Communities (SCCs) as a way of being a church said.

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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.”

The Cardinal 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 joins the National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Fr. Godefroid Manuga-Lukokisa who was appointed by Pope Francis to the 398-year-old Vatican’s Dicastery on November 17. 

Established on 22 June 1622 by Pope Gregory XV, the task of the Congregation’s members is the transmission and dissemination of Christian faith across the globe with a “specific responsibility” of coordinating and guiding all the Church's diverse missionary efforts and initiatives.

The initiatives include the promotion and the formation of the Clergy and of local hierarchies, encouraging new missionary institutes, and providing material assistance for the missionary activities of the Church.


With this mandate, the Congregation “became the ordinary and exclusive instrument of the Holy Father and of the Holy See in its exercise of jurisdiction over all of the Church's missions and over missionary cooperation.”