DAILY CATHOLIC TUESDAY July 7, 1998 vol. 9, no. 131
NEWS & VIEWS
FIVE WOMEN RELIGIOUS KILLED IN CAR ACCIDENT IN PERU WHILE IN RWANDA WHITE FATHERS ASKD TO LEAVE
LIMA (CWNews.com) - Five women religious were killed and one more remains in coma after a car accident early Sunday morning in northern Peru near the border with Ecuador.
The six women -- members of the Congregation of the Reparation of the Sacred Heart -- were traveling from Piura, 700 miles north of Lima, to Tumbes, a city located 70 miles from Piura and 5 miles from the border with Ecuador.
A police spokesman said the crash occurred when the driver slammed into a bus traveling in the opposite direction as he tried to avoid the numerous potholes caused by recent torrential rains and floods. Sisters Berta Morillo, Angelica Olaya, Elsa Paucar, Augusta Gonzales, and Simona Guerrero died immediately, while Sister Paulina Quinde, provincial of the congregation, was severely injured. She was evacuated by plane to Lima where she remained in a coma. The sisters' driver survived the accident and no injuries were reported among the bus passengers.
Archbishop Oscar Cantuarias of Piura and Tumbes mourned the death of the sisters and described it as "the greatest and most painful loss in Piura's recent history." He described the women as "holy, deeply dedicated sisters that gave a great service to the evangelization of the region." He added, "In this instance it is particularly hard to understand God's will, but we accept it and pray that, closer to God, they will help even more in bringing Christ to the minds and hearts of our youth."
The accident has shaken the region since the women were all born in the area. Early on Monday, more than 3,000 people, including students and alumni, gathered in Saint Gabriel's school in Piura for the funeral service.
Meanwhile, in Kigali, Rwanda, a group of Rwandan Catholics sent an open letter to the White Fathers religious order, asking them to leave the country and return with missionaries who "have never had a hand in the Rwandan crisis."
The letter's signers included Members of Parliament, journalists, and some monks who accused the religious order of having some responsibility for the ethnic divisions that erupted in genocide in 1992. The group of Rwandans listed six points in which they accused the White Fathers of deepening ethnic divisions and cooperating with the former colonial power, France, to massacre Tutsis in 1959 under the pretext of a Hutu social revolution. The Rwandans also claimed the White Fathers called on Hutus to kill Tutsis, because the missionaries "did not consider it to be a crime."
The White Fathers are also accused of "illicitly protecting
Rwandan priests and brothers accused of involvement in
genocide, calling on the Catholic Church in Rwanda to
reject its culpability, failing to accept that the
evangelization of Rwanda has been a failure, and inventing
propaganda to the effect that the Rwandan Catholic Church
is being persecuted."
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS