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Nine Issues of Concern Catholic Bishops in Kenya Want Addressed to “keep hope alive”

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Catholic Bishops in Kenya have, in a collective statement, outlined nine issues of concern, which they want addressed to keep alive the hope of the citizens of the East African nation.

In their Wednesday, September 15 collective statement read out to the press, members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) say they “have reflected deeply on the state of the nation” and highlight nine issues that affecting the realization of justice, peace and dignity of the people of God in the country. 

“It is an open and sad reality that the President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya are not reading from the same script,” KCCB say in their collective statement titled, “A call to keep our hope alive.”

The public exchanges from factions loyal to the President or his Deputy “are dangerous for the prevailing peace and tranquility in the Country and cannot be taken lightly,” the Catholic Church leaders say.

“We are deeply concerned that if this open disagreement between the President and the Deputy President is taken up by their supporters, the trickle-down effect it could generate across the Country will be dire to even contemplate,” KCCB members say in their nine-point statement shared with ACI Africa. 

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They call upon President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to “seek ways of reconciling and working together for the sake of the unity of our Country.”

KCCB members express their readiness to “step in and mediate a working arrangement between the two leaders.”

In their nine-page statement, Catholic Bishops in Kenya also decry politicians' defiance of COVID-19 directives against public gatherings. 

Credit: KCCB

“Despite the Government announcing a suspension of all public gatherings in the country, a section of political leaders has continually defied this directive,” KCCB members say, and add, “Our political leaders are sending a wrong message to ordinary Kenyans.”

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They continue, “It is dismaying that the law enforcement agencies are not taking action on this recklessness by politicians." 

Political leaders in the country need to “take the lives of the people of Kenya seriously and protect them at all costs,” they appeal.

The Catholic Church leaders reiterate the ban on political campaigns in churches saying, “We wish to firmly state again that our places of worship and liturgy are sacred and should not serve as political arenas. The Church is above politics.”

They urge members of the Clergy to ensure that politicians do not use churches to further their political agenda. 

Politicians who participant in Eucharistic celebrations “must do so like any other worshipper and no special consideration should be made for him or her to propagate his or her political agenda nor address the congregation in our places of worship.”

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Narratives from a section of Kenyan politicians about postponing the 8 August 2022 general elections is a concern Catholic Bishops in Kenya want addressed.

The debate about postponing the general elections, KCCB members say, is “creating needless apprehension amongst the people and predictably, the political class.”

The polls “must proceed as scheduled,” the Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “Postponing the elections will only heighten political tension, anxiety and unrest.”

They call upon relevant government entities and members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to “come out authoritatively and confirm the date for the next general elections and ensure that all constitutional requirements for holding the elections are put in place.”

The Catholic Bishops further call on Kenyans to embrace the Court of Appeal judgement against the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill.

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"Following the recent Court of Appeal judgement on the Referendum Bill, we urge all Kenyans to see this as a huge step towards the entrenchment of constitutionalism and the rule of law in our Country,” they say. 

The Bishops add, "We therefore call on all the arms of Government to respect the rule of law and exercise sobriety as they carry on with their respective complementary roles in accordance with the Constitution of Kenya.”

They also call on the citizenry to “desist from concentrating too much on the fate or outcome of the BBI process at the expense of addressing other matters affecting Kenyans, particularly as we approach the August 2022 general elections.”

In their September 15 collective statement, KCCB members also call for legal reforms saying, "In the interest of ensuring that we have free and fair general elections in August 2022, there is need for immediate legal reforms to the electoral laws within the next three months."

They urge Lawmakers and IEBC officials in Kenya to “act quickly to ensure that all necessary electoral reforms are carried out by December 2021.”

Lawmakers and IEBC officials have to "act quickly to ensure that all necessary electoral reforms are carried out by December 2021," KCCB members say.

"We, however, reiterate our position that any far-reaching constitutional amendments, especially those requiring a referendum, should only be addressed after the August 2022 general elections," they say.

The Catholic Church Leaders in Kenya also express their concerns about the increase in “incidences of political thuggery and intolerance in the country” and urge politicians “to exercise sobriety and tone down on political rhetoric.”

Credit: KCCB

“Nobody, irrespective of his/her position or political leaning, should be allowed to threaten the lives of Kenyans in pursuit of his/her political ambitions and goals,” KCCB members say, and caution Kenyans against “following political leaders blindly.”

They further express their concerns about the “politically instigated” violence taking place in some regions of the country and urge the Kenyan government “to provide security to all Kenyans.”

“Communities in Laikipia, Marsabit and Kerio Valley deserve security and peace so they can go about their daily lives,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say, and add, “The spate of anarchy in these areas must be stopped. Residents must be assured of their security. No resources should be spared to restore calm in the disturbed areas.”

They call on officials of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission “to take action on all politicians who by their political pronouncements are spreading ethnic hatred and divisions.”

“We, therefore, invite all Kenyans to continue praying for the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and for peaceful elections in 2022 as we count on the intercession of Saint Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family,” KCCB members say. 

They also pray for improved weather conditions to reduce suffering from the ongoing drought in the country. 

“May we also continue to promote peace and justice in order to preserve the integrity of our country and the dignity of our people,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say in their September 15 statement titled, “A call to keep our hope alive.”