Tuesday, 10 June 2008

KENYA: Catholics Gather at Marian Shrine to Pray for Peace and Healing KANGUNDO,

February 5, 2008 (CISA) -Hundreds of Catholic faithful from the Diocese of Machakos joined the rest of the country in praying for peace and reconciliation as reports from the national mediation process raised hopes of an end to the current crisis.Christians from 57 parishes of Machakos assembled at Komarock Marian Shrine on Saturday, led by their bishop, Martin Kivuva, and retired Archbishop Raphael Ndingi of Nairobi.Bishop Kivuva said the prayers, which featured The Way of the Cross and mass, were to “ask pardon for the sins of this nation and God’s merciful intervention.”The Diocese of Machakos, he said, supported the national dialogue and mediation efforts led by former UN secretary general Koffi Annan. The process brings together six representatives from the government and the opposition Orange Democratic Party (ODM).The mediation process is going on well and has identified four areas of dialogue: an end to the violence, solving the humanitarian crisis, addressing the political conflict caused by the flawed presidential elections and resettling of displaced people.At least 850 people have been killed and over 350,000 displaced since the post-election violence broke out at the end of December. Calm has returned in many places, but tension remains high. There are fears of resurgence of the chaos if the national dialogue fails.Bishop Kivuva said his diocese was praying “that the people of Kenya may take personal responsibility and that God may grant us the grace to appreciate the fact that true healing starts first with us.”Retired Archbishop Ndingi, born in Machakos, said Kenyans should “take this opportunity to ask their leaders to unite so that Kenya can go forward.”The Christians prayed not only for peace, but also for justice, though not through revenge. “Forgiveness is the first step towards greatness; it is the path that made Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela great, yet in this perceived as a weakness by some,” Bishop Kivuva said.He added that in order to have lasting peace, it was necessary to work for real economic and social freedom and for the respect of human dignity and property.The present crisis has pitted ethnic groups perceived to support President Mwai Kibaki against those backing Raila Odinga. Bishop Kivuva deplored ethnic bigotry.“Today, we remind ourselves and all Kenyans that the beauty of the rainbow is in its different colours; we are richer because we are blessed with the 42 tribes of Kenya. Our Kenyan rainbow is 42 colours! Let us create among all our neighbours, irrespective of tribe or creed, peaceful co-existence” he added.The Diocese of Machakos donated 3 lorry-loads of food stuffs and over Ksh 20,000 to the displaced people.

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