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Rome Reports

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New Rwandan cardinal talks about coming to terms with his family's murder in genocide


Antoine Kambanda is the first cardinal from Rwanda, the country where the genocide of 1994 took place. Nearly one million people of the Tutsi community were murdered. Among them were the parents and brothers of the now cardinal.

CARD. ANTOINE KAMBANDA
Archbishop of Kigali (Rwanda)
“The first reaction is to deny, and you say, 'No, it is not possible. This can't happen. How can it be possible?' Then you come face-to-face with the reality and accept it. You understand the mystery of evil.”

When they killed his family, Antoine Kambanda was an adult studying in Rome. He experienced the terrible stories from Rwanda from a distance. For example, he heard of children who remained orphans. Helping them allowed the future cardinal to heal his own wounds.

CARD. ANTOINE KAMBANDA
Archbishop of Kigali (Rwanda)
“When you go over, you get out of your own pain and think of the pain of the other, and say, 'I'm suffering, but this one is suffering even more than me.' It heals, and it helps you to get out of your own suffering.”

Antoine Kambanda was ordained a priest in 1990 by John Paul II, and in 2013, Pope Francis named him a bishop. Seven years later, he made him a cardinal, a role that for Kambanda, is both a surprise and a serious responsibility.

Javier Romero

Translation: CT