Church in Kenya Appeals for Peaceful and Credible Elections at Lenten Campaign Launch
CANAA || Sr. Antoinette Jecinter Okoth (FSSA) || 02 March 2017
The Catholic Church leadership in Kenya has appealed for peaceful and credible elections during the official launching of the Lenten Campaign 2017.
“The Catholic Church and other faithful community gathered here have taken a great interest to ensure that our country is held together,” the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Philip Anyolo said in his opening speech during the launch.
Political temperatures have been on the rise in Kenya some five complete months before the citizens elect their representatives at different levels of government on August 8, 2017.
“We are called therefore as leaders to seek the path of reconciliation, justice and peace among people and particularly this time of election. In that regard, the Catholic Church is calling every player in the coming election to uphold peace,” Bishop Anyolo added.
The Saturday, February 25 event was organized by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) and took place at the University of Nairobi grounds.
In his homily, CJPC Chairman, Bishop Cornelius Korir of Eldoret diocese cautioned Kenyans against tribalism ahead of the general elections saying, “Let us vote for leaders not because they come from our tribe but because they have the ability and the best leadership quality.”
“Many lives have been lost, our people are incited to fight one another on tribal and party affiliation,” Bishop Korir went on to say and added, “Let us not forget that the whole world is watching us for in the past we have done terrible things to one another. We have become a case study on how to destroy one another.”
He also warned against corruption saying, “Anybody with eyes can see how corruption and stealing of public resources is strangling any meaningful development in this country right from the county to national level. It is very sad to see millions of Kenyans in poverty while some few people are enjoying themselves as if the poor do not exist.”
Addressing the theme of lent, Bishop Korir encouraged repentance, fasting, and charity. “We have all come here to prepare ourselves to enter into the Lenten season which is a time of repentance, of fasting and of sharing what we have with those who do not have especially when our country is facing a lot of hunger,” the Bishop said.
“By undertaking this Spiritual journey we will be able to celebrate with great joy, the greatest moment of our salvation history; the suffering, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Bishop Korir added.
The celebration brought together the Bishops, clergy, religious men and women, Catholic faithful and Christian’s representatives from other denominations, political leaders and government officials including the head of state, President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Speaking at the event, President Uhuru appreciated KCCB for their efforts to launch the Lenten Campaign and for the initiative to call for peaceful elections.
“Elections for this year should not be an occasion for division or fear. Rather it is a time for all of us to reflect on the challenges as well as the opportunities of this respected land of ours,” President Uhuru said.
On his part, the CJPC Vice Chairman, Archbishop Martin Kivuva of Mombasa recalled the theme of Lenten Campaign 2017 and urged Kenyan citizens to uphold ethical values and elect responsible leaders saying, “We the Catholic Church thought it better to take this theme on “responsible leadership” as an important moment as we go forth in the Lenten campaign … We wish to urge everyone to elect leaders of integrity who uphold ethical values.”
Various material to be used during the 40-day period of Lent including booklets with weekly themes were blessed and distributed to those present, among them government officials, Christian representatives from other denominations like Seventh Day Adventists (SDA), Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK), Muslims representative, Hindus representative, the religious and the clergy.