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Italian Church speaks out on 'hidden' Rwandan priest

Following widespread international media attention at the weekend, a spokesman for the Italian Bishops Conference has spoken out against the Fr Athanase Seromba's 'trial by media', suggesting he should be given the benefit of the doubt.

Director of the Italian Church's Office for Missionary Cooperations Monsignor Giuseppe Andreozzi told MISNA there is no reason for the Church to take canonical measures against the priest, who has been accused of complicity in the 1994 genocide. He said the Italian Church has gathered a significant amount of information indicating the innocence of the Rwandan priest, and was not 'hiding' the priest in Florence as had been suggested by the international media.

He said: "After so many years since the crimes in question occurred, it is still very difficult to understand the truth of what actually happened in Rwanda. The accusation that also religious figures participated in the acts of ethnic hatred has been repeatedly vented."

Emphasising that those responsible for the atrocities should be brought to justice, he pointed out that accusations against members of the Rwandan Catholic Church have often turned out completely unfounded, such as in the case of Bishop Misago.