Church in Africa “must” Uphold Dignity of Human Persons amid Conflicts: AMECEA Official

Fr. Paul Igweta Coordinator Promoting Integral Human Development Department. Credit: Courtesy Photo

The church in Africa has a responsibility of promoting human dignity and showing solidarity with people especially in areas experiencing conflicts, an official at the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA) has said.

In a Wednesday, December 1 interview with ACI Africa, the Coordinator for Integral Human development at Nairobi-based AMECEA Secretariat highlighted the role the church has played in response to the conflicts in Ethiopia’s Tigray region and also in South Sudan.

“The church teaches that the inherent dignity of the human person is the foundation of our Catholic social teachings. As a church we must stand by the person; the dignity of the person,” Fr. Paul Igweta said.

Fr. Igweta added, “The person who is affected by this war, the person who is at war with himself and especially people denied the most basic things, such as people in refugee camps who are suffering, should be given top priority.”  

The Kenyan Catholic Priest reiterated the need to protect the sacredness of each member of the society saying, “The human person constitutes both the sacred and social being. We realize our dignity and rights in our relationships with each other.”


In the interview with ACI Africa, the member of the Clergy of Kenya’s Meru Diocese also explored the challenges that displaced people face in countries where they go seeking refuge.

“When people run away from one country to the other country, they need to be protected by the hosting country for that matter,” Fr. Igweta said, and added, “As a church we cannot support the closure of the borders when people are running from their countries in search of security and basic human needs.”

He said that the Catholic Church will always take the side of the vulnerable group, noting that a society is measured by how it treats its poor people and that. 

Giving preferential treatment to the vulnerable, the Nairobi-based Priest said, “is the only moral test that aligns with the church's responsibility.”

“Currently we are talking about refugees. These are people who are highly vulnerable. We have so many people who have run from Tigray to Sudan; we have other numbers in different parts of our region who also need to be treated well and their rights respected,” Fr. Igweta said in the December 1 interview with ACI Africa.

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He further said that a healthy community can only exist when human dignity is protected, a process he said can be effected through protection of human rights and provision of food, clothing, shelter, employment, healthcare and education in the society.

Fr. Igweta said that Catholic Bishops’ voices represent the Church and must be on behalf of the voiceless who are the vulnerable members of the society, including those in embattled regions and refugee camps.

“The church is the mother to give hope to the people, to encourage them and also to stand by its people,” Fr. Igweta said, and added, “The voice of the church should uplift the vulnerable in the society because these are the people who have no voice.”

The Kenyan Priest said that the prophetic role of the Church must remain intact, and explained, “The prophetic voice of the church needs to be felt; we cannot be silent when things are not going in support of the human person.”

This story was first published by ACI Africa on 2 December 2021