Kenya’s Catholic Journalists Urged to Communicate “beauty, aesthetics of nature” in Fight for Environmental Conservation

Credit: ACI Africa

For environmental reporting to be impactful, communicators must rediscover the beauty of nature and bring it out in their work, participants at a workshop for Catholic journalists in Kenya have been told.

In his keynote address at the five-day workshop that ends on Friday, April 26, Archbishop Anthony Muheria who was recently elected Vice Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) urged Catholic communicators to learn from The Canticle of the Creatures, a powerful poem by St. Francis of Assisi that he said brings out the beauty of God’s creation.

The canticle, Archbishop Muheria said, has become a cornerstone for the Franciscan spirituality that he said “mirrors God’s nature in creation.”

The Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri, who previously served as chairman of KCCB’s Commission for Social Communications noted that St. Francis’ canticle is not just a hymn of praise but “a recognition of how we can find God in nature.”

Archbishop Anthony Muheria. Credit: ACI Africa


“I ask myself why St. Francis had to write a poem. Wouldn’t it have sufficed to just write a thesis that solidly explains nature theologically. This tells us as communicators that sometimes the most effective way of communicating is rediscovering the beauty, the aesthetics of nature. We must sensitize people to use aesthetics such as music as our communicated media,” Archbishop Muheria said.

“Climate change stories shouldn’t always be dense numbers. That doesn’t speak to the heart. Effective environmental reporting should be a spiritual aesthetic that speaks to my heart just like that of St. Francis,” he said.

The workshop, “Empowering Catholic Journalists in Environmental Advocacy” was organized by KCCB’s Commission for Social Communications to equip Catholic journalists with skills to resonate with, and therefore communicate effectively issues about the environment.

Credit: ACI Africa

Speakers at the workshop are expected to address a wide range of topics, including the basics of environmental journalism within the Kenyan context, Catholic Social Teachings and the care of our common home (Laudato Si’), and Church documents on the environment and their implications to journalists, among others.

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In his address on Tuesday, April 23, the first day of the workshop, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya and South Sudan, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen, reiterated Archbishop Muheria’s sentiments on aesthetics in environmental reporting.

Archbishop van Megen recalled that St. Francis described nature in a poetic way, thanking God for the beauty of His creation.

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He shared a testimony of discovering God’s beauty in nature, adding that God reveals Himself in His creation. “If you live in nature, you feel that there is something therein that transcends you,” the Dutch-born Vatican diplomat said at The Radix Hotel in Karen, Nairobi.

“I grew up next to a forest. I was also a scout for a long time from an age of 5 to 25.  We used to go camping. Sometimes I would find myself alone in the forest and got this awareness of God’s beauty in nature. It was a beauty that transcends everything that you see or hear or feel. In nature, God reveals himself. Nature is God’s revelation, long before prophets and even Jesus,” he said.


The Nairobi-based Apostolic Nuncio, who also serves as a permanent observer to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the UN Habitat since he was appointed in May 2019 said that by protecting nature, human beings protect themselves.

“I am in meetings where we discuss the future of our planet and how we, who have done a lot of damage to nature, can help to repair it. How can we, by repairing creation, protect ourselves?” he posed, and explained, “Without a healthy creation, we wouldn’t be healthy. We all depend on creation.”

Archbishop van Megen challenged Catholic journalists to be “at the service of creation, the service of God Himself.”

He warned the journalists that covering environmental stories would mean that the journalists go against interests of big corporations who he said are not willing to invest in the protection of the environment.

In her remarks, the Head of Development Cooperation at the Swedish Embassy in Nairobi, Annika Otterstedt, shared what Kenya can learn from Sweden in the care for the environment.

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Ms. Otterstedt said that Sweden has a system that allows every citizen to appreciate nature.

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“We spend most of our lives in nature. From a young age, the Swedish spend a lot of time in the forests, and on the beaches. They appreciate being in nature, and with nature,” she said.

“Kenyans should be very thankful because the country has all the biodiversity that nature needs,” Ms. Otterstedt said, and added, “You have been able to preserve wildlife and all the different ecosystems. Keep doing that.”

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.