, 06 July, 2020 / 3:01 PM
Catholic Bishops in Kenya have, in their ongoing campaign against the Reproductive Health Care Bill 2019, reached out to “Christians and people of goodwill” in the East African nation, urging them to get engaged in the campaign as a manifestation of their religious and cultural identity “as Kenyans.”
Kenya’s demographics profile 2019 indicates that 83 percent of the country’s 48.3 million population is Christian.
“We call upon all Christians and people of good-will to stand up and defend the family unity, the dignity of our children, the religious and positive cultural values of our people and our identity as Kenyans,” members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say in a collective message read out at the end of the televised Mass, Sunday, July 5.
The Bishops urge Christians to “rediscover the value of the family as the domestic Church” where “social values, virtues and morals for our children and youth are taught, encouraged and supported.”
“This is the only way to deal with the social and moral evils affecting our society today,” the Prelates say referencing the family as the domestic Church and add, “For this reason, we call upon parents and care-givers to first strengthen their relationship with God and strive to be exemplary companions to their children.”
The Reproductive Healthcare Bill No. 23 of 2019, which is currently before Kenya’s Senate, advocates for “Legal and Accessible Safe Abortion,” adolescent-friendly “Family Planning” services, surrogacy, test-tube babies as well as Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
In their June 23 collective statement addressed to Catholic Members of Parliament (MPs) and all Legislators of good-will, the Bishops in Kenya explained that they are opposed to the Bill because it is against the teaching of the Gospel, against the Constitution, against the right to life and against the protection of children and of the family, issues they have reiterated in their July 5 statement.
The issues the Bishops have highlighted in their recent statements featured prominently during the controversial International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD25) held in Nairobi last November.
Other religious leaders have also contested the Bill with Evangelical Pastors calling on the Senate to shelve the proposed law to allow for more consultations and the Muslim Clerics saying the Bill is open to abuse due to its blanket provision of sexual and reproductive health rights to “everybody.”
In their July 5 collective statement read out by Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese who presided over the televised Mass at the Holy Family Minor Basilica in Nairobi, the Catholic Bishops in Kenya express their appreciation for individuals and Kenyan institutions that champion matters pertaining to sanctity of life, defense of family and protection of children.
“We appreciate that the Senate has expressed openness to engage the Church on this matter,” the Catholic Church leaders in Kenya say.
They add, “In our engagement with the Senate, we shall seek to defend the right to life, the dignity of children and the family as inseparable unit.”
In a bid to engage “all stakeholders” in the process of finding a way out of the controversy, the Bishops express their intention to “advocate for the responsibility of the Ministry of Education through Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) to provide age-appropriate and value-based human sexuality education to learners.”
As an alternative to the “Reproductive Health Care Bill No. 23 of 2019” that provides justification for the termination of “unwanted pregnancies,” the Catholic Prelates in Kenya have proposed a proactive approach that focuses on how to prevent the pregnancies from happening through “positive means such as mentorship and behavior change programs, life skills and human sexuality programs.”
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