It was pomp and colour as hundreds of Catholic youth from across the dioceses in Kenya converged at the National Youth Centre for the National Youth Mass, under the theme, Rejoice in the Lord.
The annual celebration was marked with a procession led by youth from the Diocese of Nakuru followed by the mass servers, the priests and finally the bishops. Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Nakuru was the main celebrant.
In his homily, Bishop Muhatia told the youth that it was a day to reflect on the 10 commandments, to keep and be faithful to them.
He encouraged the youth to imitate Christ Jesus Christ is saying: I am the new temple and no matter how much you try to destroy it, I will rebuild it because the temple is eternal. He reminded the youth that they are the members of the new temple.
Bishop Muhatia cautioned the youth not to go against the will of God. Today there are many voices asking the youth to lower their ethical and religious standards, said Bishop Muhatia urging the young people to be firm in their faith in Christ. He reminded them that they are the hope, present and future of the Church. You have a lot of energy which can be channeled through self destruction or building yourselves. The answers to all our anxiety can only be found in Christ. The only true wisdom can be found in Christ.
The bishop further urged the youth to be generous to one another. He informed them that the whole Church was represented at the function through all the vocations; marriage life, religious life and priesthood. He called on the youth to be committed so they can live either of the vocation of the church through God’s guidance. He further stressed that all the vocations are important in the Church and none was superior to the other.
Present at the function was Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo, the Bishop of Homa Bay and Chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference Commission for Pastoral, Lay Apostolate & Family Life, KEC Secretary General, Rev. Fr. Vincent Wambugu, National Executive Secretary Commission for Pastoral, Lay Apostolate & Family Life Rev. Fr. Charles Odira, the National Youth Chaplain Rev. Fr. Adrian Ireri, PMS National Director Rev. Fr. Celestino Bundi, Diocesan Youth Chaplains, other members of the clergy, religious and youth representatives from the Dioceses.
Rev. Dr. Charles Odira Kwanya during the Peace Building forum for the Members of Parliament towards a peaceful elections at Mombasa Continental beach resort, on the 9/05/2012
Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) are defined as actors that have a religious or faith core to their philosophy, membership, or programmatic approach.
It is noted that Kenya is host to various religious organizations that include Christianity, Islam, Hindu, African Traditional Religion and others. In their specific ways, all of them leave their mark on the Kenyan public sphere.
In this forum, I am asked to represent the Christian side, even though as religious people we stand for the same values and principles, consequently what we present is a representation of the collective FBOs in this forum.
Kenya is a theistic society
I would like to begin my humble presentation by emphasizing that Kenya is a theistic society, a fact well acknowledged and demonstrated in the supreme law of our land as follows: ‚ WE THE PEOPLE OF KENYA ACKNOWLEDGING THE SUPREMACY OF THE ALMIGHTY GOD OF ALL CREATION‚ . Note also the last three words of the same preamble of the new constitution, God‚ blessing is invoked explicitly and conspicuously in the words, GOD BLESS KENYA‚
Furthermore, Kenya is not just a theistic society it is a monotheistic society as is demonstrated in our national anthem (cf. Constitution chapter 8). ‚O God of all creation‚ is inclusive of the people of Kenya, the politicians of Kenya, faith groups in the republic of Kenya, the 42 or 43 ethnic communities of Kenya, and the resources of Kenya. The justice, peace and prosperity that we are looking for even as we prepare for the elections belong to God.
This is the God of the Christians, of the Muslims, of the Hindus, of the African Traditional Religious practitioners and other faiths hosted in Kenya. This is just a simple way of saying that we need the intervention of God in our pursuit for a sustainable peace in Kenya; and the role of FBOs often referred to as ‚ people of God‚ is indispensable.
So the Faith Based Organizations have the ‚ constitutional mandate and God given obligation and right to accompany the peace loving Kenyans into and through a peaceful election leading to a peaceful and prosperous nation.
Strategic role of the Faith Based Organization
It is the primary role of the FBOs to pray for a genuine and sustainable peace in our country. This could be achieved through organizing joint prayer meetings, sincere communal and individual prayers for our beloved country. These prayers should not be individual based but must have a National outlook; our prayers cannot be selfish and selective they should capture the whole interest of peace and prosperity of Kenya and the world at large. Praying for an individual to win in an election is not different from what the witch doctors do; they are paid to make individuals, suitable or unsuitable win. An egocentric prayer has no place in the face of God for God has no favorites. Our job is to prayer for good leaders and the rest we entrust to God who knows the hearts of men and women,
FBOs must promote and facilitate the spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness among different communities. They should not be part of the problem by remaining cocooned in their ethnic and religious gabions. There are no foreigners or strangers in the Church so it should facilitate the realization of inclusivity.
The FBOs must remain that prophetic voice of the voiceless, ready to challenge the public and secular leaders fearless without self interest. Besides, the religious leaders must always be non partisan even as they exercise their democratic right and other rights provided for by the constitution of Kenya. They are expected to rise above ethnic and party politics by virtue of their missionary nature; called to serve all.
Through their Churches, religious institutions, structures and competences FBOs are committed to educate the Kenyans on the qualities of good leaders and leadership (not on the choice of any particular candidate). For this reason, FBOs do not endorse any candidate; they do not have a Catholic, Muslim, or Angelical candidate. The FBOs are not political parties; they exercise their democratic right within the social and legal frame work provided in the Kenyan constitution as citizens.
As the conscience of the society, the FBOs are committed to demonstrate the spirit of unity in diversity through ecumenism and interfaith dialogue. The Christians in their diversity have joint forums where they share their Christian values for the common good of the nation. Different religious traditions hosted in Kenya do have joint forums and organizations sharing the same national and religious values.
FBOs expectation of Politicians (Parliamentarians)
To achieve a sustainable peace, FBOs expect cooperation and high level of integrity from the side of our current and prospective honorable Members of Parliament:
Negative ethnicity has been noted as the major contributor to violence and hatred among our communities. Interestingly, one would note that the violence is always experienced during the campaign and election periods and one may ask why? This is why the politicians are well placed to give an honest response to the public. They have the answer and certainly the solution.
It is important to realize that one of the greatest values of our country, in deed our wealth is the ethnic diversity; imagine a country with one single ethnic community! Any one of the 42 ethnic communities in Kenya can not stand alone; as Prof. John Mbiti says, I am because we are‚ together we make a nation called Kenya, unbeatable and strong. We often blame the colonial masters of having divided us along ethnic lines and now we are here paying the prize. Is it possible that our brothers and sisters in politics are using the same colonial tactics of divide and rule to exploit us? This would be shameful and unpatriotic.
Kenyans have noted with concern the ethnic groupings and regional campaigns in this period even before the official campaign time. The politicians are certainly engaging the out fashioned way of doing politics by manipulating their people for their political gain; sometimes doing jobs half way so that the other half is used for the next campaigns. In the past we have even seen electric poles delivered to places then soon after the elections they are withdrawn. Unfortunately, in Kenya, ethnic blood is stronger than the blood of reason, we forget so fast and this is the strength of the scrupulous politicians who would do anything to achieve what they want even at the expense of life.
People and national resources are used as objects of vote: no wonder when a man dies in a given constituency, the worry of our honorable politicians is not so much the loss of life but the loss of a vote or a voter. We have gone that low so as to reduce the dignity of our brothers and sisters to that level.
The Faith Based Organizations feel betrayed by the politicians who would not spare even the places of worship for their political campaigns. Sometimes the politicians are seen in places of worship only during the election period. A politician can be anything from a Muslim to a Christian at that time just to deliver their messages. A politician who does not respect the house of God is not God fearing and so can not protect and uphold the values of our supreme law that acknowledges the supremacy of the Almighty God. Only God fearing leaders can guide the Kenya into a lasting peace and prosperity.
Kenyans are watching as the politicians engage in the endless campaigns that run from one election period to the other without break. If I may ask, when do they deliver their colorful campaign promises? We cannot feed on promises and wishes at all. Utterances like, If I become the president of Kenya, I will construct for you roads‚ or ‚If you elect me I will resettle the IDPS‚ or ‚don’t elect the other person because there is nothing he can offer‚ all these promises and yet you are already serving and earning in the government, where is the sense and must you get an extra term in the government in order to deliver? Why not now?
Kenyans are watching as the politicians exchange insults publicly and calling each other names. Remember, your children are also watching, your wife/husband, brothers and sisters and they all laugh at you. We expect you to respect each other; you represent the dignity of the Kenyan people both nationally and internationally; your bitter open exchanges only fuel further bitter exchanges in our homes and communities. Remember, when you fight the Kenyans also fight, when you make peace, even if it is only apparent, the Kenyans feel secure and sought to live together in peace. You are public figures make yourself worth of your honorable status.
Kenya is our home, it belongs to all of us, we all have a collective and individual responsibility to protect and keep it homely. Let us join together for a peaceful and prosperous Kenya.
GOD BLESS KENYA
We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, under the Kenya Episcopal Conference strongly object to the contents, tone, message and intentions in an article, which appeared in Daily Nation Newspaper of Friday July 13th , 2012 under the title Kenya Joins Global Birth Control Push.
The drive by foreign agencies, whose motives we hardly comprehend to target millions of girls and women in Africa for the artificial family planning programme by the year 2020 is unimaginable, dangerous and could lead to destruction of the human society and by extension the human race.
We cannot allow our country to be part of an international agenda, driven by foreign funds and by so doing, losing our independence and our African values of the family and society. The same foreign forces are dedicating billions of shillings promoting same sex unions while millions of women across are dying due to lack of proper maternal care facilities.
Furthermore, the use of contraceptives, especially as radically proposed in the article is both dehumanizing and goes against the Teaching of the church especially in a country like Kenya where a majority of the people are Christians and God fearing. It already threatens the moral fabric of the society and is an insult to the dignity and integrity of the human person.
We would like to remind the Government of Kenya that many countries, which took such decisions, are now regretting with declining populations and nobody to consume or enjoy the much hyped development. This obviously means that strategies were drawn to develop countries without consideration of the centrality of the human person, the reason for any development.
We the Catholic Bishops in Kenya warn all Kenyans and the government that any development which does not protect the human person is meaningless and in vain. What is the use of development without all people and visions without values?Any development must be for the common good of people, as their security and protection.
It is not clear why such a large amount of money (Ksh 356 billion) is being used for contraceptives while many women are dying daily due to lack of proper medical care, food and housing. If such money or a portion of it was used to develop the under-developed parts of Kenya, the so-called threatening population of 64 million people in the year 2040 would be too low.
At a time when our people are greatly affected by HIV/AIDS and preventable road carnage, we cannot go further to condone efforts at reduction of life.
The Catholic Church in Kenya believes that 64 Million people are not too many, with proper planning where corruption, nepotism and individual egoistic trends are absent and a responsible government is in place. There are other efficient ways of proactive and Responsible Parenthood through the practice of Natural Family Planning.This of course demands discipline through abstinence, which is a necessary value in married life. This should not be rubbished as impossible.
We appeal to all Kenyans, men and women of good will to reject this Plan and to join forces in the liberation of women following the example of Christ’s own esteem for them. Nobody should be forced to abuse his/her dignity through contraceptives.
We pray that wisdom and love for all may prevail in our Country, especially as our Leaders make crucial decisions affecting our people and their future.
The Diocese of Kakamega on 3rd March 2012 held a colourful music festival to promote Abstinence and Behaviour Change among the Youth. The festival was organized by the Diocesan Education Office led by the Education Secretary Mr. Chalres Mbalilwa with the aim of picking the best three compositions which would be entered into the ABY National Anthem competition.
The Guest of Honour at the function was Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti, the Bishop of Kakamega. In his address, the Bishop emphasised the important role that the presence of parents played in the bringing up of children. The bishop called on the pupils to concentrate on their studies if they wished to have a bright future. I urge you to work hard in and out of school, said the bishop. Obey and respect your parents, your seniors and those in authority. Always desire to do good for a bright future.
The presentations were curtain raised by a parent‚ choir which performed two songs one on peace and reconciliation and the other a call to parents to take greater responsibility in bringing up their children. The best three schools were St. Joseph Academy Primary School, St. Teresa Isanjiro Primary School and Albertos Primary School respectively.
Each of the winning schools was presented with a trophy and ABY training materials. All participating schools were issued with certificates of participation and a token of appreciation from the Catholic Bishops in Kenya.
In total, 19 schools took part in the competition. In all the entries, the ABY key messages came out clearly. It was evident from the songs, that ABY was being implemented in all the participating schools. ABY stands for Abstinence and Behaviour Change for the Youth. The ABY project is implemented by the KEC-Commission for Education Religious Education. It targets primary school pupils in classes 5-8, the age at which they are most vulnerable to start indulging in early sex, drugs and substance abuse.