Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kenya, the Catholic Church and Prayers for Peace and Healing

Francis Cardinal Arinze

Bishop Peter Kairo of Nakuru

Kenya continues to struggle with the aftermath of its election. The economy is in shambles, tourism is at a standstill and thousands of people are displaced. The Catholic Church has taken an active role as an advocate for peace and healing.

The Vatican sent Francis Cardinal Arinze to Kenya with a request that all Catholics pray for peace in Kenya. The Cardinal is one of the highest ranking clergy on the continent and had been considered a possible successor to Pope John Paul II.

Catholics throughout Kenya attended church during Holy Week and prayed for peace and reconciliation. Priests called upon the President and the leader of the opposition to compromise and cooperate with one another.

The Catholic hierarchy in Kenya called upon the government to begin resettling the internally displaced citizens. This is a matter of urgency. Beside a simple matter of justice the country needs to move toward some sense of “normalize” so that others are not afraid to invest in the country. Citizens need to begin to trust one another. The church has been making substantial humanitarian contributions and Bishop Peter Kairo of Nakuru, head of the bishops’ justice and peace commission has expressed optimism about the chances of the nation moving toward a peaceful resolution of the current situation.

There are currently over 300,000 displaced citizens in Kenya. During his Easter Message the bishop stated, “Dear brothers and sisters, we must come together in prayer and promise never to let such atrocities be committed against one another," he said. "Let us allow our neighbors to come back and occupy their lands, start preparing the farms for the planting season to avert a famine outbreak and allow the children to go back to school."

Let us pray that the bishops prayers are answered. Let us also call on our elected officials to take an active role in advocating for peace in Kenya.

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