Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bishop's Statement: Issues of Concern on the Situation in the Country and the Draft Constitution

“Come now let us set things right, says the Lord...” Isaiah 1:18

We the Catholic Bishops in Kenya, sitting today in an extra ordinary plenary meeting at our Catholic Secretariat in Westlands, have followed with concern the recent development in the Grand Coalition Government especially the current stalemate between the two principals, the President and the Prime Minister.

We firmly appeal to the two principals to work together and to continue consulting for the good of this country. The good of the country must be put before any other priority and indeed the Grand Coalition Government was formed in order to keep the country united and peaceful.

It is also necessary for the politicians who belong to each side of the Political divide and others to also be conscious of the good of this country in all that they say and do.

Among other pertinent issues, corruption must be condemned and fought by all, with the two principals in the lead. This calls for objective methodologies that address comprehensively all the areas and cases of corruption.

The two Principals together must avoid abdication of duty that may delay action in the fight against graft. We urge the Principals to sit together and work with advisors who are genuine and honest and have the good of the country at heart. This would be seen to add value to the plight of the poor and marginalised in Kenya. The focus should continue to be Kenya as one people and nation.
We the Catholic Bishops of Kenya wish to advise against absconding of cabinet meetings. This would mean a stalemate in government business and would never be in the interest of the country and worst of all the electorate who have delegated their powers to the legislators.

Such a move only increases the anxiety of Kenyans and stagnates progress, threatening the very and only chance of achieving a new constitution for our country. While the solutions to the current stalemate are being sought, we must all remain focused on the responsibilities that address the Common Good, Solidarity and Development of Peoples, living in Justice and Peace.

The solution to the current stalemate should be truly home-grown. We should avoid reaching out to the International Community in the face of every crisis before exhausting internal conflict resolution mechanisms.

We are in a critical and defining moment of our constitution making process. All efforts must be put towards this important process in order to get a new constitution that will address justice for all including the unborn and the voiceless.

We therefore appeal to all to be focused, honest and united for the good of this country today and in the future.

We acknowledge the efforts and good work of the Committee of Experts, the Parliamentary Select Committee and Kenyans in the constitution review process. As it is taken to Parliament, it is our hope that the process will be brought to a positive conclusion for the benefit of Kenyans.

Bill of Rights
We recommend that the Bill of Rights as proposed by Committee Of Experts in the Revised Harmonised Draft Constitution was comprehensive and should be retained with the following amendments.

Right to Life; “Thou Shall not Kill” (Exodus 20:13)
The Catholic Church upholds the fundamental principle of the Sanctity of Life. We believe that life is sacred and God given and therefore propose the following legislation on this basis:-
1. every person has the right to life
2. life starts from the moment of conception and ends with natural death
3. there shall be no abortion
4. there shall be no capital punishment
5. there shall be no euthanasia

The family is the natural and fundamental unit of society and shall enjoy the recognition and protection of the state.
We therefore propose that the component of the family be defined as a father who is a male, a mother who is a female and children present, potential or legally adopted.

Every adult may marry only a person of the opposite sex. We do not support same sex “marriages” and they must not be allowed or recognised in the Constitution of our country.

An adult should also be defined in the constitution. We recommend that an adult be a male or female who has attained 18 years of age.

We note that the right to education is missing from the Parliamentary Select Committee draft. We therefore recommend that the proposals given by the Committee Of Experts be retained as in Article 51 and 66 (6) (c) of the Revised Harmonised Draft Constitution.

All children should have the right to compulsory basic education. Parents and legal guardians should be involved in the curriculum development. Children’s and youth’s rights should be retained as in Revised Harmonised Draft Constitution.

In the spirit of the fundamental principle of religious freedom of peoples, we note that although religion and state have to be separated, there is need to have good relations between religion and state . We therefore recommend that the constitution recognises the possibility of agreements between the authorities of different religions with the state as exists in many countries. In consideration therefore, The Kadhis’ courts be established under an act of parliament as a subordinate court and dealing only with matters of personal law, i.e. marriage, inheritance and separation.

National Days
We note that in the Parliamentary Select Committee draft there are no National Days recognized. We therefore recommend that the National days include the following:

Madaraka Day (1st June), Mashujaa Day (20th October) and Jamhuri day (12th December) as in Revised Harmonised Draft Constitution.

It is our hope that all of us will work together for a good constitution, which will deliver justice to all. That we may dwell in Unity, Peace and Liberty and that Plenty may be found within our borders


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)
Apostolic Administrator - (Malindi)
6. Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir (Eldoret)
7. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa (Kisii)
8. Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo (Homa Bay)
Apostolic Administrator -(Nakuru)
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)
21. Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria (Kitui)
22. Rt. Rev. James Wainaina (Muranga)
23. Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki (Embu)
24. Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia - Bishop Elect (Nakuru)

Dated: Tuesday, 18th February 2010

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