KAMPALA – Kigali Catholic Archbishop Antoine Kambanda is among 13 new Cardinals appointed by Pope Francis.
Pope Francis announced the appointments on Sunday, 25 October 2020, after the recitation of the Angelus.
Other appointees are the Archbishop of Washington, United States, Wilton Gregory; the Archbishop of Capiz, in the Philippines, Jose Fuerte Advincula; the Archbishop of Santiago, Chile, Celestino Aós Braco; the Apostolic Vicar of Brunei, Cornelius Sim; the Archbishop of Siena, Italia, Augusto Paolo Lojudice.
They also include Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel, Archbishop Emeritus of San Cristóbal de Las Casas (Mexico); former Apostolic Nuncio Silvano Tomasi, former permanent observer at the United Nations in Geneva who then worked in the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development; Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Papal Household; and the pastor of the Shrine of Divine Love, Father Enrico Feroci.
Cardinals serve as chief officials of the Roman Curia (the papal bureaucracy), as bishops of major dioceses, and often as papal envoys. They wear distinctive red attire, are addressed as “Eminence,” and are known as princes of the church.
Kambanda, 62, becomes the first Cardinal in Rwanda. Kambanda was appointed Director of the diocesan office of Caritas in Kigali in 1999. He then became director of the Development Committee of the Diocese of Kigali, head of the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the diocese, and professor of moral theology and visitor at the Nyakibanda Major Seminary. Speaking in 2004 of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, Kambanda acknowledged that while some members of the Catholic clergy had tried to protect the people, others had been complicit in the killings.
In September 2005 Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe appointed him rector of the inter-diocesan major philosophy seminary in Kabgayi. On 10 February 2006 Kambanda was appointed rector of the Saint Charles Borromeo Major Seminary of Nyakibanda. He replaced Monseigneur Smaragde Mbonyintege, who had been named a bishop.
In June 2011 he led five hundred Rwandan pilgrims to Namugongo, Uganda, to join the Martyrs Day ceremonies to commemorate the 45 Christian converts who were killed in 1884 by King Mwanga II of Buganda. In his sermon, he said that the sacrifice the martyrs made had greatly helped the spread of Christianity in Africa by showing missionaries that converts would be willing to die for their faith.