Monday, February 7, 2011

Witnessing in Service: The State of the Nation

We the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission mandated to advocate for good governance, promote peace and committed to eradication of injustice, as guided by the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church, do register our concerns as highlighted below:

Implementation of the New Constitution of Kenya
We would like to come out strongly and clearly on respecting and implementing the Constitution. This is the time when the Nation has to be extremely honest and look at truth and justice in the face. Those who have ears have heard the voice of the Kenyan people. We are saying to the Two Principals; His Excellency the President and Honourable Prime Minister, please follow the Constitution and Justice will set you free. In this season and time no single Kenyan is going to accept that a few individuals in the highest office of executive decide the destiny of thirty eight million people. The Chapter on Judiciary says the following: Judicial Authority is derived from the people; vests in the Courts and tribunals established in accordance with this Constitution; and shall be exercised in Courts and other Tribunals- in the people’s name for their common good; and in conformity with this Constitution and the Law. The respect we have on the integrity of the named persons is one thing but however exemplary the individual is, Law and Order must be respected.

Under the new constitution, all sovereign power belongs to the people of Kenya and shall be exercised only in accordance with the constitution. As stakeholders we are greatly concerned by the manner in which the above nominations were conducted. The nominations were not made in the spirit of the new constitution promulgated in 2010.

We emphasize that the law should be followed to the letter such that appointments to public offices shall be made subject to the National Accord and Reconciliation Act and after consultation with the Prime Minister with the approval of the National Assembly without favour or bias.
The executive should take note of the provisions of chapter six on leadership and integrity and the relevant Articles (156, 157, 166 and 228 and Sixth Schedule) on appointment to public offices. We emphasize that “The State President shall be a symbol of National Unity”. The revelations of these nominations are falling short of this great value.

Transitional Justice
Kenya agreed to subject herself to the provisions of the Rome Statute in pursuing justice for the victims and perpetrators of gross human rights violations. In addition, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission was set up to address historical injustices.

In the recent past, sections of political leadership and government have been applying diversionary tactics to derail the International Criminal Court effort in pursuing justice. This has been characterized by MPs voting for Kenya to withdraw from Rome Statute and government appeal to the AU and IGAD members to support the same. This gesture is not sincere and portrays the politicians’ intention to delay justice, perpetuate the culture of impunity and cronyism.

Similarly, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission process has been plagued by issues of credibility and inadequate support from government. Furthermore, the current political environment is not conducive for the commission to effectively carry out its mandate.

It is over three months since the tribunal to look into the suitability of the chairperson of the TJRC was set up. However, the tribunal is yet to begin its work and thus negatively affecting the TJRC process. The tribunal therefore should been seen to be working in a transparent and open manner

The commission is currently operating without two of its commissioners who were selected on the basis of their expertise and experience, thus creating a resource vacuum within the TJRC.
We are concerned about the statement taking process which was concluded on Monday. The timing was too short and many have been locked out of the process. We have also received reports of inadequate training of the statement takers, recruitment of ineffective statement takers which will eventually affect the quality of hearings and the final report.

We caution the government to tread carefully on the ICC prosecution process in order to ensure that true justice is accorded especially to the victims of 2007/2008 Post Election Violence. Further, we appeal to the government and politicians to support transitional justice processes.
Internally Displaced Persons are still crying for Justice to be done .

It is regrettable that over three years down the line, we still have Internally Displaced Persons languishing neglected and live in misery, poverty, disease and despair. This strips them of their constitutional right as provided for in Art. 28 of the Constitution of Kenya; that every person has inherent dignity and the right to have that dignity respected and protected. We remind the government that it has the responsibility to ensure that every person has the right to: quality healthcare, adequate housing, reasonable standards of sanitation, sufficient and quality food, water and social security.

Political responsibility
Those with political responsibility must not forget or underestimate the moral dimension of political representation which consists in the commitment to share fully in the destiny of the people of Kenya and to seek solutions to social problems. In this perspective, responsible authority also means authority exercised with those virtues that make it possible to put power into practice as service.

Politicians are now gearing up for the 2012 general elections and this is manifested in the media, public fallouts, political realignments and the stirring of ethnic tension. We are concerned that this focus is selfish, divisive, not in the spirit of reconciliation and does not allow for national healing and cohesion.

The political community must understand that it finds its authentic dimension in its reference to the Kenyan people. It is and should in practice be the unifying organ of Kenyans and not the agents of hatred and violence.

Sanctity of life
The Church sees in every person the living image of God. For this reason the Catholic Church recognizes her fundamental duty to assert the sanctity of human life inherent in every one of us. Recently three Kenyan police officers were suspended and put under investigation after a video that showed them allegedly shooting three unarmed men suspected to be criminals on a busy street of the outskirts of Nairobi was released.

This was followed by several police officers being shot by criminals in different instances. The shootings set off a mixture of reactions including condemnations and praise of the police actions.
We wish to emphasize that the respect for human dignity can in no way be separated from obedience to the principle of social order. It is necessary to consider every neighbour without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his/her life and the means necessary to live in dignity. A just society therefore can become a reality only when it is based on the respect of transcendent reality of the human person.

The Constitution marked the dawn of a new hope. The constitution should be implemented in a way that promotes life, equality, and dignity of every human person in this country. The Catholic Social Teachings also emphasize the same. It is the responsibility of everyone, and in particular those who hold various forms of political, judicial or professional responsibility with regard to others to be the watchful conscience of society and the first to bear witness to civil, social conditions that are worthy of all Kenyans.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God”

Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth
KEC- Catholic Justice and Peace Commission Chairman
2nd February 2010

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Monday, January 10, 2011


We have witnessed recent reports on comments attributed to The Holy Father, that have been carried in the international and local media, that have misrepresented the remarks of Pope Benedict XVI on the issue of sexual morality and the struggle against the HIV and AIDS infection.

First we would like to clear the air and to clarify to all the people, and to the Catholics, regarding the position of the Church with regard to the use of condoms for the peace of mind and proper guidance.

1. We reiterate and reaffirm that the position of the Catholic Church as regards the use of condoms, both as a means of contraception and as a means of addressing the grave issue of HIV/AIDS infection has not changed and remains as always unacceptable.

2. The media reports have unfairly quoted the Pope out of context and banalized the deeply sensitive medical, moral and pastoral issues of HIV/AIDS and accompaniment of those infected or affected, reducing the discussion on the demands of sexual morality to a mere comment on condoms.

3. The book is question “Light of the World: the Pope, the Church and the Signs of Times. A conversion of Pope Benedict XVI with Peter Seewald” was the result of an interview. It was not written by the Pope even though it expresses his ideas, concerns and sufferings over these years, his pastoral projects and his hopes for the future.

4. To reduce “the entire interview to one phrase removed from its context and from the entirety of Pope Benedict XVI though would be an offence to the Pope’s intelligence and a gratuitous manipulation of his words.”

5. The pope was not speaking g specifically on the morality of condom use, but more generally “about the great questions facing modern theology, the various political events that have always marked relations between States and finally, the themes that often occupy a large part of public debate.”

6. It is important to explain that the morality of human actions always depends on the intentions of the person. It is the way we use things that make the action evil or good. The use of condoms is unacceptable because it is often an external manifestation of the wrong intention of the action, and a distorted view of sexuality.

7. The church and indeed the Holy Father reaffirms that “naturally the Church does not consider condoms as the “authentic and moral solution” to the problem of AIDS.” Rather a true change of heart or conversion that will give the sexuality its human and even supernatural value. We need to appreciate better the gift of sexuality, that humanizes us and when well appreciated remains open to God’s plan.

8. The situation referred to by the media, which quotes an interview made to the Pope by a German journalist, involves the Pope’s judgment on the subjective moral journeying of subjects who are already involved in gravely immoral acts in themselves, specifically in acts of homosexuality and male prostitution, thankfully totally alien to our Kenyan society. HE is not speaking on the morality of the use of condoms, but on something that may be true about the psychological state of those who use them. If such individuals are using condoms to avoid harming another, they may eventually realize that sexual acts between members of the same sex are inherently harmful since they are not in accord with human nature. This in no way condones the use of condoms in itself.

9. The Holy Father brings out an important point, that even those who find themselves deeply entrenched in immoral life, can gradually journey towards a conversion, and acceptance of God’s laws. This journey may have steps which may in themselves not yet include a total submission to God’s law, but rather a step closer to accepting it. However, those acts still remain sinful.

10. The church is always going to be focused on moving people away from immoral acts towards love of Jesus, virtue, and holiness. We can say that the Holy Father clearly did not want to make a point about condoms, but wants to talk about growth in moral sense, which should be a growth towards Jesus. This also applies to those still living in seriously immoral lifestyles, we should strive more and more to focus on the morality of the human actions, and judge rather the action of the human person and not the object used for an immoral action.

11. The church urges those involved in prostitution and other gravely immoral acts or lifestyle to conversion n. While understanding the many unfortunate reasons that often lead to this lifestyle, it does not condone it, and regards it as morally wrong.

12. The church is gravely concerned about the life, the health and the general welfare of those who find themselves in this difficult and painful situation of HIV/AIDS infection. In fact the amount of efforts and resource mobilization by the Catholic Church, both in partnerships with others and on her own, will always be aimed at a search for human and liberating solutions to the pandemic.

13. The problem is really more than just the condom debate. Rather a deeper interior healing, that gives people hope and helps them to rediscover the simplicity and radicalism of the Gospel and Christianity in accompanying to give and reaffirm hope to those infected and to those affected.The church reaffirms her commitment to continue to urge all people to struggle to live good moral lives, which always means great sacrifices, for the “kingdom of God.” The church reaffirms her solidarity with all those suffering from HIV/AIDS. There exists many ways to face up to this situation. Above all the church trusts in the power of Grace and the strength God gives, to positively face the challenges this new situation presents, and with Hope, journey together with all God’s family towards our heavenly homeland.



His Eminence John Cardinal Njue
Archbishop of Nairobi
Apostolic Administrator of Ngong
Chairman - Kenya Episcopal Conference

1. Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti - Vice Chairman (Kakamega)
2. Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth (Kisumu)
3. Most Rev. Boniface Lele (Mombasa)
4. Most Rev. Peter Kairo (Nyeri)
5. Rt. Rev. Paul Darmanin (Garissa)
6. Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir (Eldoret)
7. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa (Kisii )
8. Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo (Homa Bay)
9. Rt. Rev Alfred Rotich (Military Ordinariate)
10. Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley (Kitale)
11. Rt. Rev. Norman Wambua King’oo (Bungoma)
12. Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, IMC (Marsabit)
13. Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng’ang’a- Aux. Bishop (Nairobi)
14. Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC (Isiolo Vicariate)
15. Rt. Rev. Patrick Harrington (Lodwar)
16. Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante (Maralal)
17. Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi (Meru)
18. Rt. Rev. Luigi Paiaro (Nyahururu)
19. Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo (Kericho)
20. Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde (Machakos)
Apostolic Administrator -Malindi
21. Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria (Kitui)
22. Rt. Rev. James Wainaina (Muranga)
23. Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki (Embu)
24. Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia (Nakuru)
25. Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich – Aux. Bishop (Lodwar)

Date November 29, 2010

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Friday, October 22, 2010


We the Catholic Justice and Peace Commissioners drawn from all the Catholic Dioceses in Kenya gathered here at Kolping Vocational Training Center - Kilimambogo for our Annual General Meeting from 19th to 22nd October 2010; as a Commission of the Catholic Church mandated to advocate for good governance, promote peace and champion justice in the country, as guided by the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church do register our concerns as highlighted hereunder:

Implementation of the New Constitution of Kenya
We acknowledge the democratic decision exercised by the majority of Kenyans in passing the new Constitution. As a stakeholder we commit ourselves to supporting the process of its implementation.

In pursuit of the above, we are disappointed at the confusion characterizing the interpretation of the New Constitution. This is in regard to areas such as restructuring of the Provincial Administration, the status of Local Authorities, the functions of the County Governments and the functions of the implementing organs (Executive, Parliament and Commission on the Implementation of the Constitution).

Leadership and Integrity
With the promulgation of the New Constitution, Kenyans ushered in a new culture of transparency and accountability. However, we are concerned that the continued culture of impunity among political leadership has not changed, making reference to the following issues; unwillingness of legislators to pay taxes, the kind of horse-trading witnessed in and outside Parliament whereby some leaders accused of corruption and other integrity issues are being protected by their colleagues. There are also unmerited public appointments based on tribalism, nepotism and political affiliation.

Transitional Justice
Kenya agreed to subject herself to the provisions of the Rome Statute in pursuing justice for the victims and perpetrators of gross human rights violations. In addition, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission was set up to address historical injustices.
However, in the recent past, sections of political leadership have been applying diversionary tactics to derail the International Criminal Court effort in pursuing justice. This has been characterized by politicians inflaming ethnic passions and sympathy as a cover up for their misdeeds. Similarly, the Truth Justice Reconciliation Commission process has been plagued by issues of credibility and inadequate support.

· In implementation of the New Constitution we call for tolerance, understanding and above all, the involvement of all stakeholders. To facilitate a pro active and participatory approach, Kenyans require immediate structured and intensive Civic Education to help them understand the New Laws. As Catholic Justice and Peace Commission, we are prepared to partner with the Government and other stakeholders towards the realization of this noble objective. Civic education on the Constitution should be infused in the school curriculum at all levels.

· Since the New Constitution acknowledges the “Supremacy of the Almighty God” the teaching of religion should be upheld as part of the school curriculum. To effectively do this, we urge the government to recruit more religious education teachers in our schools and forbid tuition on Saturdays and Sundays as a process of implementing the New Laws. At the same time, faith based organizations should articulate their rightful role in inculcating the moral values in the New Constitution.

· With implementation of the New Constitution, future leaders of this country in 2012 should be God fearing, and people of high integrity, high moral standing, and high professionalism. The judges should exercise impartiality and ability to make wise, prudent, timely and balanced judgments, so that Kenya can get rid of pending cases of corruption, (Goldenberg, Anglo Leasing, the sale of Grand Regency), and extra-judicial killings.

· In reference to leadership and integrity, we call upon political leaders and public office holders, to start living the culture of the New Constitution. This requires that Legislators, Judges and other public servants start paying taxes without any further delay. Public appointments should also be based on merit and due process.

· With reference to transitional justice, we exhort the Government to address the issues of credibility and inadequate support plaguing the TJRC process. In the event that the Government fails to do this, we call for the overhaul or disbandment of the Commission. In addition, since the Government has made commitments with International Criminal Court in signing the Rome Statute, the latter should be allowed to fulfill their mandate unhindered.

In conclusion we refer to the Social Teachings of the Catholic Church and note that the tasks accompanying the responsibilities in social and political institutions demand a strict and articulated commitment that is able to demonstrate clearly the absolute necessity of the moral dimension in social and political life through thoughtful contributions to the political debates, planning and chosen actions. Failure to do that, inadequate attention to the moral dimension leads to the dehumanization of life in society and of social and political institutions thereby consolidating “structures of sin”.[1]

Signed by:
Archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth

Chairman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission

Date: 21st October, 2010
[1] Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Nairobi: Paulines Publications Africa, 2004, pp. 304.

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI implores media on truth

The media can not be indifferent to the truth.

Addressing participants attending a week long congress on the Catholic Press that concluded on October 7, 2010 in Rome, Italy, His holiness Pope Benedict XVI called on those working in the media to be messegers of truth and hope.

"At a time when more and more people are embracing the new-media especially social networks the church continues to explore ways of maintaining its presence," he said.

The congress that had over 200 media personalities representing the print, the electronic and new media, from 85 countries in the world explored ways in which gospel, while facing the challenges of the time, can be transmitted relevantly using the new media.

Arch Bishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council of Social Communications had earlier on said that the church media must help people re-discover God, while offering them hope.

Addressing the congress, he lamented that the Catholic media had lost her prophetic voice. The President hoped that the catholic media would rediscover her prophetic role in her communications mission.

"In a digital world, the church must also present and grow with the new technology and bring all people to God," he said.

The visit to the Holy Father ended with the Pontiff encouraging and blessing those in the Catholic media, and he wished them the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit in their ministry.

Kenya was represented by Fr Martin Wanyoike, Secretary for Communications-Catholic Secretariat; Sr Lucy Lando-Director; Ukweli Video and Ms. Bertina Kanaka-Director of Comunications; Archdiocese of Mombasa.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Catholic media urged to stand for the poor

The Catholic media must strive to carry the message of truth and goodness for the whole society.

This was said by Cardinal Tarsisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Vatican as he celebrated mass for the delegates attending the ongoing World Congress of the Catholic Press at the Vatican city on October 6, 2010.

Reminding the participants that they are called to promote a culture of dignity for all humanity, Cardinal Bertone asked the catholic media to lead in advocating for the needs of the poor and the needy in the society.

The mass which was celebrated at St Peter’s Basilica in Rome was at the at start of the third day of the congress which ends on October 7, 2010 with the address of the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

The congress has brought together over 200 media practitioners from 85 countries to discuss the catholic media in the face of developing technology.

Kenya is represented by Fr MartinWanyoike , the Secretary of Communications at the Kenya Episcopal Conference (KEC); Sr Lucy Agnes Lando, Director of KEC's Ukweli video productions and Bertina Kanaka, the Archdiocese of Mombasa's communications Director.

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Message for the end of Ramadan 'id al-fitr 1431 H./ 2010 AD'

Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming violence among followers of different religions

Dear Muslim Friends,
1. Id al-Fitr, which concludes Ramadan, presents, once again, a favourable occasion to convey to you heartfelt wishes of serenity and joy on behalf of the pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

Throughout this month, you have committed yourselves to prayer, fasting, helping the neediest and strengthening relations of family and friendship. God will not fail to reward these efforts!

2. I am delighted to note that believers of other religions, especially Christians are spiritually close to you during these days, as it is testified by the various friendly meetings which often lead to exchanges of a religious nature. It is pleasing to me also to think that this message could be a positive contribution to your reflections.

3. The theme proposed this year by the Pontifical Council, Christians and Muslims: Together in overcoming violence among followers of different religions, is, unfortunately a pressing subject, at least in certain areas of the world. The joint committee for Dialogue instituted by the pontifical Council and Al-Azhar permanent Committee for Dialogue among the Monotheistic Religions had also chosen this topic as a subject of study, reflection and exchange during its last annual meeting (Cairo, 23-February 24, 2010). Permit me to share with you some of the conclusions published at the end of this meeting.

4. There are many causes for violence among believers of different religious traditions, including: manipulation of religion for political or other ends; Discrimination based on ethnicity or religious identity; divisions and social tensions. Ignorance, poverty, underdevelopment are also direct or indirect sources of violence among as well as within religious communities. May the civil and religious authorities offer their contributions in order to remedy so many situations for the sake of common good of all society! May the civil authorities safeguard the primacy of the law by ensuring true justice to put a stop to the authors and promoters of violence.

5. There are also important recommendations given in the above mentioned text: to open our hearts to mutual forgiveness and reconciliation for a peaceful and fruitful co-existence, to recognize what we have in common and to respect differences, as a basis for a culture o dialogue, to recognize and respect the dignity and rights of each human being without any bias related to ethnicity or religious affiliation; necessity to promulgate just laws which guarantee the fundamental equality of all; to recall the importance of education towards respect, dialogue and fraternity in the various educational arenas: at home, in the school, in churches and mosques. Thus we will be able to oppose violence among followers of different religions and promote peace and harmony among the various religious communities. Teaching by religious leaders, as well as school books which present religions in an objective way, have, along with teaching in general, a decisive impact on the education and the formation of younger generations.

6. I hope that these considerations, as well as the responses which they elicit within your communities, and with your Christians friends, will contribute to the continuation of a dialogue, growing in respect and serenity, upon which I call the blessings of God!


Jean-Louis Cardinal Tauran –
President, Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

Archbishop pier Luigi Celata –
Secretary, Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Bishops' Statement: Insecurity In Kenya

We greet you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is with great shock and disbelief that we, together with the rest of the world, witnessed the ugly scenes that befell our Christian sisters and brothers on the evening of Sunday the 13th 2010, at the Uhuru Park grounds in the Central Business District of Nairobi.

We condemn in the strongest words possible the atrocious crimes that were meted out on innocent Kenyans while conducting a prayer service. We extend solidarity with the Bishops and Pastors who organised this successful prayer meeting.

Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the departed and we pray for them to receive Divine comfort from the Almighty God. We pray for the deceased and urge all Kenyans to pray for the souls of these our brothers and sisters who have lost their lives while expressing their democratic right in “defense of life”. We are however surprise and shocked that someone decides to dishonorate the Government from this barbaric act without first waiting for the findings of the investigation of the police.

We also wish to condemn the cowardly acts of vandalism, defilement and irreverent that was witnessed at the Holy Family Basilica on the morning of Monday the 14th of June 2010. This attack was directed against “The Most Blessed Sacrament” which all Catholics hold most Sacred. We deeply protest against this sought of vandalism, and condemn categorically the action of the instigators.

We wish to categorically state that we shall not be intimidated neither shall our resolve to oppose this flawed draft be dented. Indeed, we express our concern against the personal attacks that have been made through the media and in public against our church leaders simply because they in good conscience have chosen to oppose the draft constitution and urge Kenyans to reject it as a document that is not good for our country.

We as a country have already witnessed firsthand where this slippery road of violence and intolerance can lead us. We call upon all Kenyans to join hands and resist any elements amongst us that are bent on dividing the country or taking us back to the dark days of violence. We also call upon Kenyans to be calm and accommodating of one another’s views whether for or against the constitution.

It should not be lost in our minds that we must continue as a nation, whatever may be the decision we make on the historic 4th of August, and that God will still be with us to guide us forward.

The Catholic Church in Kenya calls on all Kenyans to be united and to speak with one voice of love, respect and understanding regardless of colour, religion, tribe, race or creed, or even position taken on the proposed constitution. We also call upon all Kenyans of goodwill to remember our country in prayers that we may all learn to live harmoniously together with love and unity.

Signed for and on behalf of ALL Archbishops and Bishops

His Eminence John Cardinal Njue
Chairman Kenya Episcopal Conference

Cc National Council of Churches of Kenya
Att. Canon Peter Karanja

Cc Evangelical Alliance of Kenya
Att. Rev. Dr. Willy Mutiso

Date: June 15, 2010

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