, 10 June, 2020 / 2:00 AM
Catholic Bishops in Kenya are cautioning the people of God in the East African nation against the temptation to disregard values cultivated in families such as love and forgiveness amid COVID-19 challenges ranging from job loses, reduced income, and restrictions to movement among others.
“Worries of access to food, money, rent and job security have characterized the lives of Kenyans, deepening the anxiety of what the future holds for us,” the Bishops said in a collective statement read out on Trinity Sunday, June 7 in which they express their “great pastoral concern” about the current situation.
The Bishops note that the worries occasioned by existential challenges are contributing to different forms of conflict including gender-based violence, reckless behavior, different forms of abuses, indifferences, and separations, among others.
“We are living in extraordinary times with changing roles within our families, our homes and our workplaces,” Bishop Norman King’oo Wambua said on behalf of the Bishops in Kenya at the end of the televised Mass, which he presided over at Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi.
In the statement, the Bishops “urge all Kenyans not to take this pandemic as an opportunity to deviate from our family values.”
“Rather, we should take it as a God-given moment to rethink and reflect on the meaning and the values of a family and fruits of marriage and to remember that daily love and forgiveness are the pillars of every family,” the Bishops add.
“In our world today, there are many happy families, just as there are some families that are struggling to remain happy and harmonious, especially during this difficult time,” Bishop Wambua who is also the Chairman of the Family Life National Office of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said on behalf of the Bishops.
The Bishops invite the people of God “to reflect on the family as a gift from God and the pillar of strength during good and bad times” amid the challenges at the level of the family.
They invoke the words of Pope Francis’ in the 2016 Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on the pastoral care of families, Amoris Laetitia saying “crises form part of the life of every family.”
“We are reminded that in the family, we are called to live the love of God concretely, and on the other hand to grow in mutual love, the characteristics of which are beautifully outlined in St Paul's hymn of charity: Love is patient, kind, not jealous or boastful,” the Bishops say.
“Promotion of unity, cooperation, constructive communication, empathy, forgiveness, mutual understanding, appreciation and sheer enjoyment of one another's company” are essential in maintaining healthy and happy relationships in families, the Bishops say, adding that a healthy family is where members foster a good relationship with God and among each other.
“We urge the family to pray together, read the Word of God, evangelize and express mutual respect,” Bishop Wambua who is the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Machakos Diocese said, encouraging “spouses to share their thoughts and cooperate in the upbringing of their children.”
Addressing the recent tribal clashes in Narok County located west of capital city Nairobi that have led to the loss of lives, destruction of property and fear among the area residents, the Bishops commend the Government for calling for dialogue between the warring communities and call on political leaders “to shun divisive politics and instead demonstrate servant leadership.”
They reiterate their commitment to continue working with State and non-State actors for the common good amid COVID-19 difficulties and encourage Kenyans to pray and support the vulnerable people in the society including the sick, the poor, the elderly, the vulnerable and persons with special needs.
ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.
Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa