Catholic priest defrocked by Pope

A Rwandan-born Catholic priest, Wenceslas Munyeshyaka, who fathered a 12-year-old child has now been dismissed by Pope Francis.

Munyeshyaka, following the Rwandan genocide, had fled to northern France where he had been working as a cleric for nearly 30 years. According to reports, he had since then avoided places where he was previously known.

Catholic outlet La Croix International reported on Thursday, 4th May, that the Francis‘ decision to sack Wenceslas Munyeshyaka as priest was made on 23rd March, and was announced on Monday.

According to the report, the priest confessed to causing the birth of a child in 2010, hence prompting the Pope’s decision.

In a statement signed by the bishop of the Evreux diocese, Munyeshyaka was said to have ‘automatically lost all rights” associated with his ordination and is being “excluded from the exercise of the sacred ministry.” Another clergyman, Bishop Christian Nourrichard, said Munyeshyaka’s removal begins with “immediate effect” and cannot be appealed.

Munyeshyaka, who was the head of a parish in the Evreux diocese, was suspended by the bishop in December 2021 after he admitted to having a fling in Gisors and consequently fathering a boy.

Munyeshyaka, who was ordained into the Catholic Priesthood in 1992, was accused in 1995 of killing the Tutsis in Rwanda, raping several women and partaking in the executions at his church in Kigali. According to the UN, an approximately 800,000 souls were lost in the 100-day-long conflict.

However, in 2015, French courts cleared Munyeshyaka of the criminal charges in the 20-year case due to lack of substantial evidence.

Munyeshyaka’s dismissal “is not related” to the genocide allegations, and is based on the conclusion of an investigation relating to his suspension in 2021, the dioceses clarified, as reported by La Croix.