As is our practice, we, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya have, in a spirit of united, prayerful reflection and consultation, held our four-day biannual plenary conference in Kisumu from 8th- 12th November.
Together with our God given mission to preach, sanctify and lead we are obliged to be united with Christ, our Saviour, in concerning ourselves fully and sincerely in whomsoever is homeless, hungry, in prison, destitute, deprived of human rights, etc. quite apart from political, ethnic, religious or other considerations. We cannot rest until all our brothers and sisters in Kenya are helped to enjoy their God-given rights, to live in peace and security.
We have written a very honest and well-intentioned open letter to H.E. the President and to the people of goodwill in Kenya, published in the Press on 30/10/1993.
The Government's reply to our letter, as well as the present intolerable disregard for law enforcement and for all human rights, is the reason why, up to the present, all personal, as well as official, attempts at dialogue have failed.
We stand by every word we have written and are happy with the warm support received from an important cross-section of the Kenya community. We urge all those who have not understood or accepted the message, to open their eyes, their minds and their consciences.
There was one omission in our statement and that was of Rt. Rev. U. Kioko, Bishop of Machakos. He was present at the meeting and was one with us in making the statement. His name was on the final draft, but most unfortunately human error led to his name not being listed. Any embarrassment to Bishop Kioko and his Diocese is deeply regretted.
The Kenya Episcopal Conference also studied the interview given by Rt. Rev. Bishop R. Ndingi Mwana 'a Nzeki to the Sunday Nation reporter and published on 7/11/1993. The Bishops fully support what Bishop Ndingi stated. The report deserves careful reading by anyone wanting to understand what is happening in Kenya in the clash areas and the poor performance of some Government leaders. It is only fair to clarify that in an interview one answers the questions asked and not other matters. His answers do not flatter the Government.
The meeting of 8th-12th November regretted that deeds of violence are still going on, giving the impression that the Government is helpless to prevent them. We are hearing of fresh ethnic violence in West Pokot and Mt. Elgon area usually resulting from inflammatory statements which are blindly and irresponsibly permitted by the Government.
Security in other areas does not seem to have improved much, with some praiseworthy exceptions. The breaking of just laws by whomsoever it may be or for whatever reason is always wrong and for that reason raids on police stations, mob justice and all other crimes are condemned. We would have expected those 'outside forces' whether Opposition or not, guilty of the Molo Burnt Forest attacks and mentioned by H. E. the President recently to have been identified and arrested a long time ago.
Another matter causing grave concern is that a number of our brother Bishops who have spoken out are complaining about death threats, sinister shadowing, arson incidents, etc.
All this reflects a situation in which we are all concerned and involved. There is too much violence, hate and greed among too many of our people, not just our Government leaders. We can all see that present policies and activities are leading inevitably to ethnic cleansing everywhere on a disastrous scale.
Let us all come before God, as a people, to help us to recognise our sins, our wrong attitudes, our misguided policies, our unjust actions.
The Holy Bible reminds us of what must be a parallel situation, the one which confronted the Prophet Jonah at Ninevah. We are all challenged by Christ's words:
"On Judgement Day the people of Ninevah will stand up and accuse you, because they turned from their sins when they heard Jonah preach; and I assure you that there is something here greater than Jonah!" (Lk 11:32).
We believe our situation calls for prayer and collective return to God and His Commandments. All those who believe in God and His Goodness must all unite in imploring His help for Kenya and His mercy on our dead and our afflicted. We call on all religious bodies, all professional and non-professional organization, church leaders at all levels, to support all God-fearing citizens of Kenya in participating in a week of prayer from Sunday, 28th November till Sunday, 5th December.
Together with the NCCK and others, including our Muslim brothers and sisters, we are encouraging midday and evening prayer services in all places of worship and/or even in homes or the privacy of our room in order to implore God for Justice, Peace, and Unity in Kenya for all its citizens and reconciliation under God's law of Love and Respect. We have been very impressed by the overwhelming generosity and compassion shown by our ordinary people in helping each other without any ethnic discrimination. There are still many homeless and displaced people. It would be appreciated if all material and financial help could be channeled through trustworthy relief committees.
In addition to the above we wish to invite all to bring our week of Prayer and Repentance to a climax in the last three days.
3rd December, a Friday, holy to Christians and Moslems, which we wish to dedicate to mourn for our dead and repent for all crimes against justice and human dignity in the context of the clashes in all parts of the country and as affecting all ethnic groups. We want all those affected to know that they are not forgotten and our hearts go out to them. We call to mind so many widows, orphans, the homeless, the "displaced" within our own country. To them "our heartfelt sorrow ...please hope - God is there."
Information should be made available as further arrangements are made by respective leaders. Our common concern for Kenya should unite us before God. May this universal call to prayer and our spirit of loving concern for all who have suffered, draw God's help and guidance.
May this Week of Prayer bring about that Renewal we all expect so as we can all sing in full voice, conviction and commitment...
O God of all creationBless this our land and nation. Justice be our shield and defender, May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty;Plenty be found within our borders.
Yours Respectfully,Bishops of the Catholic Church
Questions for Reflection and Sharing
This pastoral letter does not seem to add any new element to the PREVIOUSs. What was the purpose of this letter?
The Bishops are inspired by the book of Jonah. Are you familiar with it? How can it be fruitfully applied to our situation today?Once again the Catholic Bishops show ecumenical openness by inviting other Churches to common prayer. How is this ecumenical collaboration in your own parish? How are your personal relations with believers of other religions?