Catholics in Kenya to Reflect on “integrity for a just nation” during Lenten Season

Credit: Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)-Catholic Justice & Peace Department (CJPD)

During this year’s Lenten season, Catholics in Kenya have been invited to reflect on their practice of integrity and how this can contribute to the realization of a “culture of justice” in the East African nation.

In a message for the launch of Kenya’s 2024 Lenten Campaign, Catholic Bishops highlight the theme and areas of focus for each of the five weeks of the season of Lent that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14.

“Integrity for a just nation” is the theme guiding this year’s Lenten season, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say, adding that the theme “focuses on using our integrity to build a culture of justice in Kenya.”

“A just nation is only possible if the citizens are people of integrity,” they say in the message for the Lenten Campaign 2024 launch that was presented at Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral grounds of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Embu, the venue of the February 9 event.

During Lent, KCCB members are inviting Catholics in Kenya “to reflect on our journey of faith as the baptized people of God who should live with integrity to build a just nation.”


They identify the “fight for justice for the poor” as essential for “moral beings” and add, “Mother Church says there is only one choice to make over the poor; the preferential option for the poor.”

“The preferential option for the poor means that we cannot see injustice towards the poor, leave them in their unbearable condition and find reasons to justice our inaction,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say to illustrate the need for Catholics to practice integrity, which they say has several dimensions “key in our everyday lives”.

They highlight seven dimensions of integrity, including “honesty and truthfulness; transparency; adherence to moral principles; accountability; humility; courage; ethical decision-making and commitment to doing what is right.”

In the message that the Chairman of the KCCB Commission for Promoting Human Integral Development (CPHID), Bishop John Oballa Owaa of Kenya’s Ngong Diocese signed, areas of reflection for each of the five weeks of Lent are highlighted. 

In week one, Catholics in Kenya are to reflect on the “Sovereignty of the People” as explained in Chapter one of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, namely, that the people of God in Kenya “are the source of all political power”. KCCB members term as “disheartening” the making of unilateral decisions by the political class through “inadequate public participation only conducted to fulfil constitutional requirements but not to take into consideration the contribution from the people.” 

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Kenya’s 2010 constitution “demands meaningful involvement of the people when making key policy decisions through public participation,” KCCB members emphasize in the eight-page message that the Catholic Justice and Peace Department (CJPD) issued on February 9.

In week two, Catholics in Kenya have been invited to reflect on the “Right to Clean, Safe and Adequate Water”, with a particular focus on “environmental justice”, understood as “not just a policy preference or a political slogan” but as “a fundamental human right, deeply intertwined with our survival, dignity, and well-being.”

“It is our duty as stewards of mother earth and custodians of future generations to ensure that the right to water is not the privilege of a few people, but a fundamental right for all of God’s creation,” KCCB members say, and add, “We must guard our water towers against depletion and take deliberate action towards environmental restoration.”

The high cost of living and high taxation, which Catholic Bishops in Kenya say have “adversely affected many Kenyans, particularly the poor and vulnerable members of the society,” will be the focus of the Lenten Campaign during the third week of Lent. 

“Our journey towards social justice must begin with a balanced approach to taxation and a concerted effort to alleviate the high cost of living ensuring that the backbone of our nation, the Kenya Citizens, are not only surviving or hustling but enjoying a dignified life,” KCCB members say in the message that was read out during the launch of the 2024 Lenten Campaign Sts. Peter and Paul Cathedral grounds of Embu Diocese. 


In week four, Catholics in Kenya have been invited to focus their attention on “Religious Extremism”, which, KCCB members say, “not only threatens our peace and security but also the very principals of social justice and harmony that Kenya has long cherished.”

“What happened at Shakahola in Malindi is still fresh in our minds. Hundreds of Kenyans lost lives through activities associated with religious extremism,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say referring to the massacre at the Coastal Forest in Kenya’s Kilifi County, where one, “pastor” Paul Mackenzie Nthenge, allegedly convinced his followers that starving themselves to death would hasten their departure from this life in order to “meet Jesus”.

Week five will have Catholic in Kenya reflect on “Emerging Threats to the Family”, which KCCB members describe as “diverse and complex”.

Threats to Kenyan families, they say, “range from the economic pressures of an ever-tightening job market to the social disruptions caused by technological advancements.” 

“Furthermore, the erosion of communal interactions, the rise of individualism and pressure from LGBTQ advocates pose a significant threat to the traditional support systems that families have relied upon for generations,” KCCB members say in the message that was read out during the February 9 celebration that had Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri Archdiocese, and Bishop Paul Kariuki Njiru of Kenya’s newest Catholic Diocese of Wote among the concelebrants.

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In focusing on threats to Kenyan families during the fifth week of Lent, KCCB members “call upon all parents to instill good morals at the family level and take time to dialogue and pray together as a family.”

In the 2024 Lenten Campaign message, Catholic Bishops in Kenya also invite Catholics in the country to pray for the ongoing Synod on Synodality, which Pope Francis extended to 2024.  

“We are, therefore, invited to continue praying for this process of Synodality to be a moment of conversion towards making our Church Christ-centered in what we do and in whom we are as children of God,” KCCB members say.

Nicholas Waigwa contributed to the writing of this story

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