"We are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you through us, and in the name of Christ we appeal to you to be reconciled to God" (2 Cor. 5: 20).
We are at a point in our country where we need to re-build our nation and especially all that will reconcile us as Kenyan people. After the post election violence, our nation has continued to bleed from the wounds of this scourge. We as the shepherds of the Catholic Church, wish to strongly appeal to all Kenyans to be ready to live with each other in a spirit of forgiveness and to make practical steps towards true reconciliation and not just political re-alignments and re-groupings. We do not have a choice. We must take up reconciliation as our agenda. This should be done and experienced from the lowest to the highest, including the victims of violence, IDPs and our political leaders. We can no longer ignore or postpone this call for reconciliation without at the same time putting the search for true peace in jeopardy. We need to put aside all vengeance and bitterness and seriously embark on the reconstruction of our nation for a better tomorrow. We wish to encourage ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation in some parts of the country; these initiatives should be supported by all. Now is the time to show our patriotism!
In view of this, we are concerned about the current situation in the country and wish to address some issues that are of paramount importance and profoundly affect us as a country.
1. THE CHIEF JUSTICE AND DEPUTY CHIEF JUSTICE
We are deeply concerned about the nominees and the nomination process for the positions of Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice, given the crucial role they will play in the implementation of the Constitution. Besides, being the senior most offices in the Judiciary, they will have a strong impact on the judicial philosophy that will guide the interpretation of the Constitution of Kenya in the future. Who the future officers shall be will also determine the trust and collaboration they will enjoy in order to effectively bring about positive reforms desired by Kenyans in the Judiciary.
The Chief Justice and the Deputy Chief Justice are officers who enjoy the security of tenure once appointed. Therefore there is need to ensure that those to be appointed to these esteemed offices satisfy all Constitutional criteria, including "high moral character, integrity and impartiality" (cf. Article 166 of the Constitution of Kenya). We need people with a judicial philosophy that reflects natural law, the Kenyan religious and African cultural values, including our universal respect for life, our recognition of the importance of family wellbeing and our appreciation of the role of religion in public and private life.
It is also necessary that the nomination process should respect the power and integrity of the Executive as the appointing authority. By presenting single individuals to the two Principals, the Judicial Service Commission abrogated the power of the Executive. Now that the names of the nominees have been presented to parliament, it is upon our parliamentarians to defend and protect the interests of the people of Kenya.
We the Catholic Bishops, conscious of the great role the Constitution will play not just in ensuring justice for all but also in enhancing the moral order of society as a whole are convinced that only candidates who meet the criteria of integrity should be considered. The excessive emphasis on academic excellence and radical reformism is not sufficient. Justice fundamentally involves moral order.
We have witnessed unprecedented insecurity throughout the country. The situation of Turkana, for instance, is of grave concern, seeing the seeming negligence of our people in the face of constant attacks. These are Kenyan people and it is the duty of the State to protect and take care of all its citizens. This helplessness is compounded by the drought and famine suffered by these and other people in the country. In the same vein, reports of the anxieties of some of our brothers and sisters living in other areas where the sovereignty of our country appears to be under threat cannot pass unheeded. We are pained by this apparent negligence and the slowness of the State to act. The government must seriously seek lasting solutions to these issues and reassure the people of their safety and security, which includes addressing their dilapidated infrastructure.
We are also equally concerned about the increase in internal insecurity, particularly burglary and thuggery, some of which have targeted our Catholic institutions, leading to losses of lives and property. We are also concerned about the recruitment of Kenyans into militia groups as reported in the media. This situation cannot be tolerated anymore and it needs to be arrested immediately.
The Christian roots of education in this country have never been in doubt. In fact, the Catholic Church has always been involved in the education and formation of leaders. This formation of good leaders both intellectually and morally has always been our mission.
We are therefore greatly perturbed by the current trend to alienate the Church in the education system for this would greatly jeopardise the moral and human formation of future leadership in this country. We need to bear in mind that the Church has always been at the service of all and especially the poor in the area of education. We are opposed to the attempt to push the Church out of the schools and to water down its role in their management. We are also strongly opposed to our Church sponsored schools being converted into national schools because we want them to remain within the reach of the common mwananchi. In any case, the fees currently charged in national schools are prohibitively high.
4. FAMINE AND HIGH COST OF LIVING
Our hearts and concern go out to the plight of the common mwananchi, who has been affected so much by the high fuel and food prices. We are especially concerned about those in marginalized areas where the cost of living is even dearer. Currently, certain areas are facing famine due to the failed rains and in some cases people and livestock are dying.
It is the prerogative of the government to prioritize issues and urgently deal with those problems that affect Kenyans most. We call on the government to take charge of the situation in order to safeguard the stability of our nation. Further measures need to be taken to lower fuel and food prices. We feel too much energy is being spent on political in-fighting and re-alignments rather than addressing the concrete problems that threaten to lead this country into a deeper crisis. We also appeal to other stakeholders to move with speed and supplement the efforts of the government in order to avert crisis levels going any further than they have reached already.
Dear Kenyans, even in these difficult times, we place our hope and the future of our nation in the hands of the Almighty God. We invite all of you to sincerely pray for the unity of our country and to make efforts for reconciliation. "If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing. Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory" (Philippians 2: 1-3). May our Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace intercede for us.
His Eminence John Cardinal Njue
Archbishop of Nairobi
Apostolic Administrator of Ngong
Chairman, Kenya Episcopal Conference
Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti - Vice Chairman Kakamega
Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth Kisumu
Most Rev. Boniface Lele Mombasa
Most Rev. Peter Kairo Nyeri
Rt. Rev. Paul Darmanin Garissa
Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir Eldoret
Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa Kisii
Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo Homa Bay
Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich Military Ordinariate
Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley Kitale
Rt. Rev. Norman Wambua King'oo Bungoma
Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, IMC Marsabit
Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng'ang'a- Aux. Bishop Nairobi
Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC Isiolo Vicariate
Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante Maralal
Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi Meru
Rt. Rev. Luigi Paiaro Nyahururu
Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo Kericho
Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde Machakos
Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria Kitui
Rt. Rev. James Wainaina Murang'a
Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Embu
Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Nakuru
Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich Lodwar