Rwanda: Bishop Resigns Over Heavy Church Debts

Kigali — Monsignor Kizito Bahujimihigo, who headed the Catholic dioceses of Kibungo and Ruhengeri has resigned, amid serious financial troubles, the church announced last Friday.

According to Bishop Semarigande Mbonyintego of Kabgayi Diocese, who is also the chairman of the Bishops in Rwanda, Bishop Kizito resigned because he had failed to account for millions of church funds.

"Monsignor Kizito Bahujimihigo has resigned; Kibungo is going to be overseen by Archbishop Thaddeus Ntihinyurwa, while Ruhengeri will be in the hands of Bishop Habiyambere," Bishop Semarigande announced.

According to one insider who wanted to remain anonymous, Kizito failed to account for over Rwf400 million.

"The resigned Bishop could not explain where the Rwf400 million went. This was worsened by the fact that the dioceses lost more funds during the reign of his predecessor," the source said.

Other sources say the diocese is sinking in debts worth over Rwf 1 billion. There is fear that if the diocese is not bailed out, some of its assets may be auctioned to sort out the debts owed to different banks.

The resignation has drawn mixed reactions.

Albert Habemungu, a Christian in Kibungo wondered why clergymen, who cause heavy financial losses, are never held accountable.

"Financial losses in our Church are treated in the name of 'Jesus Christ'. Why can't these people be followed up?" he said.

The resignation comes days after Church leaders across the diocese appealed to Christians to pray and contribute towards getting the church out of the financial woes.

The Church will in the near future get the dioceses' new leaders as per the set procedures, officials said.

When contacted, the clergyman confirmed his resignation but said it was still early for him to go into the details of the reasons behind his resignation.

"What I can tell you at the moment is that I wrote to Rome requesting for resignation and it was granted for the details behind my decision, it is still early, I can only be in position to do that in two or three weeks," he said.