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Rwandan bishop to be investigated

21 February 2014

LAMBETH PALACE has begun an investigation into the case of a Rwandan bishop who now serves as a priest in the diocese of Worcester, after he was accused of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza, who was Coadjutor Bishop of Kigali during the massacres, is now assistant curate in three parishes in Worcestershire (Elmley Lovett, Ombersley, and Hartlebury).

On Sunday, The Observer published allegations by Human Rights Watch and the London-based advocacy group Africa Rights that Bishop Ruhumuliza was a "propagandist" and "spokesman" for the Hutu regime as it killed thousands of ethnic Tutsis.

The Observer also said that the Home Office delayed granting Bishop Ruhumuliza a work permit for two years, because of concerns about his alleged part in the genocide.

In a statement, a spokesman for the diocese of Worcester said: "Extensive checks were undertaken through Lambeth Palace before Bishop Jonathan Ruhumuliza began ministry in the diocese of Worcester in 2005. No evidence was found of complicity in the Rwandan genocide. Bishop Jonathan has always been willing to face any charges, but none have ever been brought."

The statement also said that Bishop Ruhumuliza had been recommended by the Archbishop of Rwanda, the Most Revd Emmanuel Kolini, in 2005.

But the then Bishop of Worcester, Dr Peter Selby, who appointed him, told The Observer that he had never heard of the allegations of Bishop Ruhumuliza's complicity in the genocide. "If there is a level of complicity in the genocide of the kind that the human-rights document states," he said, "then I find it completely astonishing and unacceptable that that's not dealt with by due legal process."

After the appointment, Dr Selby said that he was made aware of the allegations, but was given satisfactory assurances.

The statement by the diocese of Worcester suggests that Lambeth Palace will investigate the claims. A spokesman from the palace confirmed that the allegations were being looked into.

The president of an association of genocide survivors, Jean Pierre Dusingizemungu, criticised the Church for not asking enough questions about Bishop Ruhumuliza. "We do not see why Churches refuse to face history and reality," he said. "Instead of hiring and promoting these people, they should check on their role during the genocide."

The Church Times repeatedly attempted to contact Bishop Ruhumuliza, but he did not respond.

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