Advertisement

Seven Issues Catholic Bishops in Kenya Want Addressed for a “peaceful, secure” Country

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB)/Credit: Courtesy Photo

Catholic Bishops in Kenya have, in a collective statement issued at the end of their Ordinary Plenary Assembly, outlined seven issues affecting the East African nation, which they want addressed for a “peaceful, secure and prosperous” nation. 

In the seven-page statement, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) outline the COVID-19 pandemic and health emergency, the proposed constitutional amendment and the 2022 general elections, restructuring of the electoral commission and the strengthening of the judiciary, insecurity, flooding emergency response and food insecurity as major issues that need addressing.  

Referencing COVID-19 measures that the government has previously put in place, the Catholic Bishops say they “find it very painful when places of worship are closed to the public whenever there is a lockdown, yet at the same time people are allowed to go to the markets and other public places without any restrictions.”

“We find it unfair the way some of those charged with enforcing the law disrespect worshippers and places of worship,” KCCB members add in their May 27 message shared with ACI Africa.

They continue, “If there is anything to be addressed, let it be done in a humane way with maximum respect and care for the life and dignity of every person. Let us embrace the way of dialogue in tackling issues instead of using brute force and intimidation.”

Advertisement

The Bishops also urge Kenyans to continue observing COVID-19 health protocols saying they need to “consider the value of life and sacrifice any occasions and interactions that may become a source of spreading or contracting the virus.”

They recognize the role of COVID-19 vaccination in controlling the negative effects of the pandemic and urge the government “to ensure the safety of the vaccines given to Kenyans” and that the process of procuring the jabs is “as transparent and accountable as possible.”

In the statement availed to ACI Africa, KCCB members express concerns about the standoff between the Kenyan government and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), causing the holding of  Antiretroviral (ARV) medication at the Kenyan port of Mombasa. 

“What is at stake are the lives of many Kenyans infected with HIV/AIDS who depend on ARVs,” they say and call for “a speedy solution” to the stalemate.

Regarding the proposed constitutional amendments through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), Catholic Bishops in Kenya recognize the fact that the High Court’s ruling that declared the process “unconstitutional, illegal, null and void” has elicited strong opinions among Kenyans.

More in Africa

“Some of these reactions, especially the personalized attacks on the High Court judges, are uncalled for and are unacceptable in a civilized society,” KCCB members say, and “call for sobriety in all engagements over the decision of the court to avoid polarizing the country.”

They add that the process to challenge the High Court’s decision could drag on for months, hence the need for Kenyans to “bear in mind that it may not be possible to hold a referendum before the August 2022 general elections.”

To ensure “a democratic, constitutional and inclusive process that is based on the law and dialogue,” the Bishops recommend that “any far-reaching constitutional amendments should only be addressed after the 2022 general elections.” 

They also demand that the August 2022 elections proceed “as provided for in the constitution and no thought of postponing it to a later date should be entertained whatsoever.” 

KCCB members also make known their concerns with regard to insecurity in the country’s Baringo County, a region covered by Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Nakuru. 

Advertisement

Describing the violence in the Kenyan County as “worrying”, the Bishops say that many people have been displaced and are currently living in fear.

“The state of anarchy in the region must be stopped,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, adding that the government “has an obligation to provide security to all its citizens.”

The government should “support those who have been affected by the violence to reconstruct their lives,” they say, and add, “It is incumbent upon all Kenyans to promote and maintain peace and shun all acts of hatred, discrimination and violence.”

In their statement signed by all Catholic Bishops in Kenya, KCCB members also express concerns about the rising violence at smaller units of the Kenyan society, including nuclear families.

“We are witnessing people killing one another in families, among friends and at our learning institutions. The extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and dumping of bodies in rivers and forests is abhorring,” they bemoan.

(Story continues below)

Should the violence be left unchecked, the Bishops say, Kenyans “risk perpetuating a culture of intolerance and death.”

They call on Kenyans to “cultivate a culture of dialogue” and “to recover and promote the traditional ways of conflict resolution or in the absence of such mechanisms, take recourse to the law of the land to resolve disputes.”

Regarding food security, the Bishops call on the government to respond to the drought situation that has been predicted by the meteorological department “by providing both short-term and long-term assistance to the affected populations to lessen suffering and avert a humanitarian crisis.”

“We must embrace a culture of anticipatory data-driven action to address drought and food insecurity crises in the country,” KCCB members say. 

They encourage the people of God in Kenya not “to lose hope in the midst of despair and suffering.”

They further urge Kenyans to “take both individual and collective responsibility in fighting COVID-19 pandemic and other evils in our midst, to ensure effective and transparent structures of governance for our country, to work towards a peaceful, secure and prosperous Kenya.”