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At Conference, Kenyan Bishop Calls for Actualization of Fratelli Tutti at Community Levels

Credit: Vatican Media

A Kenyan Catholic Bishops has challenged religious leaders across the globe to identify ways of actualizing Pope Francis’ Encyclical Letter on human fraternity and social friendship, Fratelli Tutti, at community levels.

Bishop Wilybard Kitogho Lagho who was giving his opening remarks at the virtual Global Conference on Fratelli Tutti said religious leaders have “a long way to go” in actualizing the Holy Father’s latest Encyclical Letter among the people at the local levels. 

“We need to focus our attention on how to translate Fratelli Tutti at the level of the communities,” Bishop Lagho said Thursday, August 19 at the opening of the three-day virtual conference that was inspired by the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, a joint statement signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb.

“We need to focus our attention at the community levels where the Imam and pastors whose places of worship are neighbours have not begun to dialogue,” the Bishop of Kenya’s Malindi Diocese added.

High ranking religious leaders have advanced in building networks among religions but with followers of different religions at the community levels, “we have a long way to go,” Bishop Lagho further said. 

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In his message, the Kenyan Bishop described Fratelli Tutti as “a pillar that can give us a road map in building unity on our continent.”

“Africa is multicultural and multireligious. We have had our own conflicts, many times based on identify and resources,” Bishop Lagho said, and explained, “Fratelli Tutti is a very strong inspiration to our continent that, to an extent, is still struggling to develop and create national good among our people who belong to the same State but different cultures and different religions.”  

The Catholic Church leader also noted that many families in Africa are good models of living in fraternity. 

“We have a good model that we can propose to the rest of the world. In Africa it is common to have a family with members from different religions and they live together as a family without referring to their religious identities,” he said.

To this extent, the Bishop went on to say in reference to the reality of African families constituted by members following different religions, “Africa is not just a model of conflicts but a continent that has a model of how Fratelli Tutti is being lived in the families and beyond.” 

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The three day conference that will conclude Saturday, August 21 has been spearheaded by Tangaza University College, Global Ministry University in California, The State Islamic University Kalijaga Yougyakarta in Indonesia, Umma University and the Harmony Institute.

Giving his remarks at the virtual conference, Msgr. Lucio Sembrano, an official of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, highlighted the need for people to be united with each other saying it is “the path that Fratelli Tutti is encouraging all human beings to walk, to build a united and fraternal world community.” 

“Beginning with the pandemic and including the ecological challenge of preserving our natural resources, we are faced with a choice between discarding people and on the other side,” Msgr. Sembrano said, the other option being “respecting diversity and acknowledging the path that each has to play in confronting the problems that lie ahead.”

He added in reference to Pope Francis’ message during the World Day of Peace 2015, “The globalization of differences which diverges the lives of so many of our many brothers and sisters requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our lives.”

On his part, the Vice Chancellor (VC) Designate of Tangaza University College, Prof. David Wang’ombe, said that it is time for religious leaders “to actively exert themselves with courage and audacity and without pretense to help the human family deepen the capacity and peaceful coexistence.”

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“It is our responsibility to walk this talk,” Prof. Wang’ombe added. 

He went on to call for a thorough examination of Pope Francis’ latest Encyclical Letter saying, “The spirit of Fratelli Tutti is global. Its appeal for solidarity is universal hence we try to look at this document, we treat it with the holistic analysis it deserves.” 

For the VC of the Kenya-based Umma University, Dr. Idle Farah, it is “difficult to fathom” that some sections of humanity prosper due to injustice, violence, and hatred directed against other human beings based on ethnicity, religion, race, and culture.

“The first thing to do about this chaos and hatred is to bring humanity back to the middle path of moderation, justice and fraternity,” Dr. Farah added.