Tuesday, 10 June 2008

KENYA: Catholic Lenten Campaign ‘08 Focuses on National Renewal NAIROBI,

January 5, 2008 (CISA) -Ahead of the start of Lent on Wednesday, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission has unveiled this year’s Lenten Campaign that focuses on national healing.The theme is: ‘I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you’, taken from God’s message to Israel through prophet Ezekiel: “I will remove your old heart of stone and give you a new heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow My decrees and help you to keep My laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26-27)The Lenten Campaign booklet indicates that this year’s theme is meant to give Kenyans hope and that this Lent should be a time of renewal. The booklet is available in the dioceses.It has five sub-themes, covering the weeks of Lent. In the first week, Christians will reflect on accountability and transparency. Lack of accountability has left many people impoverished and disenfranchised. Transparency and accountability should exist at all levels, namely; the family, church, society and at work places. This culture should be developed right from the family level.In the second week, Christians will reflect on youth empowerment. The youth are being used as violent-gangs-for-hire and are easy targets for drug peddlers. To realise a prosperous, working and productive nation, Kenya should invest in youth empowerment. In Kenya, like in many African nations, many poor families struggle to educate their children, resulting in an ever increasing rate of school dropouts and high crime rates. The emergence of decentralized public funds has offered the youth an opportunity to access higher education, making them more marketable.The third week the theme will reflect on climate change. Planting seasons are unpredictable making many people lose valuable time and money. The economy has been affected as well. Climatic changes or global warming, affect everyone. Massive floods, droughts and an increase in diseases and pests as a result of higher temperatures in the atmosphere are often experienced. The fourth week will focus on gender: Both girls and boys, men and women must have equal opportunities to enable them decide what they want to do with their lives. Gender parity is likely to rid society of prejudices and stereotypes.In typical homes, girls often get second place after their brothers, in terms of meals, receiving health care and education. Girls often have to learn ‘motherhood’ early to cater for the needs of the family while the boys hardly learn the practical aspects of daily living.The fifth week focuses on reconciliation. “The church teaches that true peace is made possible only through forgiveness and reconciliation. The weight of the past, which cannot be forgotten, can be accepted only when mutual forgiveness is offered and received; this is a long and difficult process, but one that is not impossible.” (Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church 517). Different people face different kinds of conflicts, usually dictated by their cultures, socio-economic structures, political differences and others. Addressing these conflicts should always be the way forward.Lent is marked by the blessing of ashes and the smudging of it on faithful’s foreheads on Ash Wednesday or, for pastoral reasons, on the First Sunday of Lent. The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality as well as the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God.This year’s Lenten campaign was supposed to be launched in Lodwar. However due to the ongoing political instability the launching will not take place.

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