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Kenyan bishops issue a pastoral statement on the current situation in their country
The Catholic bishops of Kenya have issued a pastoral statement expressing concerns over the state of insecurity in the country and allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds. In the November 7th statement, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops warned against nepotism and urged Kenyans to be calm, united and patient with regards to the cases facing their president and vice president at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Commenting on the proposed media law in the country, the Kenyan catholic bishops reminded all citizens that the making of new laws or amendments to the country’s new constitution calls for the participation of all stakeholders. They called for a clear respect for the freedom of the media but urged the press to be more responsible and aware of “the power they wield to build or to destroy and must be guided by the truth.” The pastoral statement signed by the Chairman of conference, Cardinal John Njue and 26 other bishops follows a meeting in Ukweli Pastoral Centre in Kisumu, Kenya.
It urged the government to do more to protect every Kenyan and for people not to use the name of religion to cause harm to others. The statement called on the national leadership to promote unity and ensure equal representation of all Kenyans in state and national appointments and distribution of resources.
Below is the full statment
A Pastoral Statement of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops
Our Beloved Nation, Our Concerns
“Yahweh loves those who hate evil, He keeps safe his faithful” (Psalm 97: 10-12) 1. INTRODUCTION
We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting at Ukweli Pastoral Centre in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, have reflected deeply on the state of the Nation. As shepherds, we feel very close to our brothers and sisters in our nation. The ordinary Kenyan has gone through a period of great anxiety caused by the terrorist attacks, insecurity, road accidents, and the uncertainty caused by the political see-saws.
We want to tell every single Kenyan that we have a responsibility, and we as your shepherds invite you to hope, and to each take our role in our society. We therefore wish to share some reflections and concerns, on the current state of our country.
2. STATE OF INSECURITY
We are deeply concerned about the general state of insecurity across the country. Of particular mention are: the insecurity in the coast and northern Kenya regions, the burning of churches and killing of religious leaders in cold blood.
We are greatly troubled by increasing cases of kidnappings, carjacking and terrorist attacks in our country. We wish to once again remind our fellow citizens that the security of this country starts with each and every one of us. As such, we ask all Kenyans, to be ever more vigilant and not to lower their guard. In this regard, we commend the recent government initiative to involve every Kenyan in security matters and community policing. It reminds all of us that we must endeavour to be each other’s keeper when it comes to security issues. We still remind the government that more needs to be done. The country cannot afford to gamble with the security of her citizens.
We appreciate efforts by our Muslim brothers and sisters to disassociate themselves from violence. However it is regrettable that some people continue to use the name of God and religion to kill and maim innocent people. We also disassociate ourselves from demands by some religious leaders for arms to defend themselves and their flock. Religious extremism will only brew more conflicts and create more division and strife among communities. We believe in peace and insist that it is the duty of the government to provide security for its citizens.
3. CORRUPTION AND GREED
Corruption continues to be a dragon that preys on our country’s present and future. In the last few weeks, the media has been awash with allegations of corruption and mismanagement of public funds in a number of public offices. We urge all Kenyans to exercise the highest levels of integrity in their day to day duties.
We note with a lot of concern that corruption has directly led to numerous deaths on our roads caused by drivers with little respect for human life and police who have just refused to implement the law.
The duty of rooting out corruption belongs to every Kenyan. Our dear Kenyans, we need to save our lives and our nation for ourselves and the future generations. Our dear Kenyans, every one of us; politicians, leaders and ordinary citizens; police and the judiciary; must take upon themselves the commitment to fight corruption. WE MUST CHANGE FROM OUR CORRUPT WAYS IF WE WANT TO SAVE THIS COUNTRY!
4. THE ILL OF NEGATIVE ETHNICITY
While we reaffirm our support for devolution and decentralized governance, we warn against emerging trends of corruption, nepotism and unjustifiable spending in the various leadership offices.
The fact that elected leaders manipulate the legislative process to demand for unreasonable remunerations, while a majority of Kenyans wallow in poverty, goes to prove how insensitive our leadership has become. There is an increasing tendency to discriminate against other people on the basis of their religion and ethnic affiliations. It is regrettable that religious and ethnic exclusiveness are still rampant in the central and regional governments. We also urge national leadership to promote unity and ensure equal representation of all Kenyans in state and national appointments and distribution of resources.
5. INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
The ICC cases facing our President and his Deputy are causing a lot of anxiety. While we appreciate that the ICC tribunal has considered to make the timetable fairly flexible, we urge all Kenyans to be calm, united and patient allowing the court process to run its course.
6. PROPOSED MEDIA LAW
We have noticed the heat generated by the proposed media law that seeks to regulate the operations and conduct of journalists, bloggers and other communicators. Without delving into the merits or demerits of the proposed law, we remind all Kenyans and more so the drafters of the bill that the current constitution encourages public participation in its implementation. Making of new laws or amendments therefore calls for the participation of all stakeholders.
The role of the media in highlighting issues of national interest and encouraging public discussion should never be underestimated. While calling for a clear respect for the freedom of the media, we urge the press to be more responsible and aware of the power they wield to build or to destroy and must be guided by the truth.
We, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, in the words of St Paul, “…beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called, with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity. Be anxious to preserve the unity of the Spirit within the bonds of peace” (Ephesians: 4:1-3).
May God Bless our Land and Nation
“Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, Ilete Baraka Kwetu…” (National Anthem).
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue
Chairman, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)
Kisumu,Thursday 7th November 2013