, 22 June, 2020 / 10:00 PM
Catholic Bishops in Kenya have expressed their strong opposition to alleged attempts to introduce Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in schools aimed at controlling teenage pregnancies in the East African nation. They have also objected to the abortion bill before Kenya’s Senate.
“We are totally opposed to those trying to introduce Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools as a way of curbing teenage pregnancies,” the Bishops in Kenya say in a statement, which was read out at the end of the televised Mass Sunday, June 21.
They decry the numerous risks that children are exposed to amid COVID-19 restrictions such as domestic violence, alcohol and substance abuse, defilement and lack of basic necessities of life due “to their age-related vulnerabilities.”
“Strong family values and personal responsibility on nurturing and safeguarding children can go a long way towards eradicating or significantly reducing child sexual exploitation and the resultant teenage pregnancies that scatter life-goals of our dear children,” they say in their collective message read out by Bishop Joseph Mbatia who presided over the televised Mass at the Holy Family Minor Basilica, Nairobi.
Safeguarding of all children is “everyone's responsibility,” the Bishops say and appeal to parents, guardians and caregivers to “prioritize their children's wellness and safety even as they go about their daily activities in search of income for livelihood.”
“Parents have the God-given privilege and obligation to bring forth life and to nurture every life they bring forth, especially in matters of virtues, values and character-building, including age appropriate human sexuality education,” Bishop Mbatia who is also the Chairman of the Catholic Health Commission of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said on behalf of his brother Bishops.
They challenge parents to honor their duty of responsible parenting saying, “No one else can nurture and teach your children on matters of life better than yourself.”
The Bishops’ total opposition to CSE follows the recently released Kenya Health Information System survey showing that 152,829 teenagers aged between 10 and 19 have been impregnated in a period of the four months that schools have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A section of Kenyans including Education Cabinet Secretary (CS), Prof. George Magoha questioned the authenticity of the statistics, terming it as a clandestine campaign to justify the introduction of CSE.
“I will interrogate the rate of pregnancies as they look manipulated. Who is giving these figures? Could some NGOs behind sex education be pushing for the numbers,” Kenya’s Standard newspaper quoted the Education CS as asking.
The Bishops have renewed their opposition to CSE in the country in an online campaign that aims at collecting at least ten thousand signatures from Kenyans.
“We are also opposed to the Bill before the Senate on Abortion,” the Bishops say in their June 21 collective statement referencing the Reproductive Healthcare Bill 2019.
The bill advocates for “Legal and Accessible Safe Abortion,” adolescent-friendly “Family Planning” services, surrogacy, test-tube babies as well as CSE, issues which featured prominently during the controversial International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25).
The Bishops have also sent their condolences to families that have lost their loved ones due to the coronavirus and urged the government “to support the bereaved families to bury with dignity their loved ones who have succumbed to Covid-19.”
Kenya has confirmed at least 4,738 COVID-19 cases, 1607 recoveries and 123 related deaths.
“There are those of us who, unfortunately, get infected or affected by the disease. We must not stigmatize them; we all need each other,” the Bishops say and add, “We exhort all of us to be charitable to these brothers and sisters who happen to be infected or affected and those recently recovered and released from hospitals.”
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