KENYA: Regional Bishops to Strengthen Apostolate to the Nomads
NAIROBI, November 14, 2008 (CISA) -Catholic bishops and priests from the Association of the Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa (AMECEA) are to implement an aggressive pastoral strategy to reach out to nomadic dioceses.
The strategy, which includes radio stations in far-off dioceses, special programmes in the seminaries for pastoral agents and training catechists and other agents of evangelization was proposed during a meeting held in Nairobi between November 11 and 13.
They also agreed to “Engage dialogue between the nomadic cultures and Christianity in matters of inculturation of liturgy, theology, biblical and liturgical translations, promote Church advocacy for the nomadic people and strengthen Apostolate to the Nomads of AMECEA (ANA),” a statement released at the end of their meeting read in part.
While encouraging AMECEA institutions to engage in research and publications on issues concerning nomadic communities, they further said that the church will find ways to mobilize human and other resources from within and outside for evangelization of the nomads and organise meetings at different levels.
Episcopal conferences and dioceses were also urged to include representatives of nomads in diocesan pastoral structures and programs.
KENYA: Thousands of Youths to Take Part in Taizé Event
NAIROBI, November 18, 2008 (CISA) -Over six thousand young people from different countries are expected in Nairobi next week for a five-day event organised by the Taizé brothers community of France.
The meeting, from November 26 to 30, has been prepared over the past year by brothers from Taizé and volunteers from different continents in collaboration with youth chaplains from churches in Nairobi. The theme will be, ‘Sharing hope’.
The ecumenical community of Taizé was founded by Brother Roger in 1940 in France. It works for unity between Christians and welcomes thousands of young adults throughout the year. It has organized similar gatherings in other cities, including Johannesburg in 1995, Calcutta in 2006, Cochabamba, Bolivia, in 2007, and Geneva in 2007.
The program of the international meeting will mainly consist of prayer and sharing, the organisers said. The main venue will be on the grounds of Queen of Apostles minor seminary on Thika Road.
The morning program will take place in the 70 parishes and church congregations and religious institutions where the participants will be accommodated. Local youth will escort their guests to visit places of suffering and hope and share the creativity and commitment of ‘people of hope’ in the neighbourhoods.
The Nairobi meeting is intended to support young people in their search for God and their desire to commit themselves in their Church and in society.
Thousands of young people, Catholic and Protestant, from different provinces of Kenya and other countries are already registered: 500 from Tanzania, 450 from Uganda, 260 from Rwanda, 50 from Burundi, 20 from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Other participants will be from South Africa, Madagascar, Zambia, the Sudan, Mozambique and Angola. Over one hundred young people will come from Europe, Asia and North America. The first ones arrived on November 15 and have started a program in different communities in Nairobi.
Brother Alois, the prior of the Taizé community, along with several Taizé brothers will take part in the Nairobi event. Cardinal John Njue, the archbishop of Nairobi, will be present during the evening prayer on November 28 at 6.00 pm. Other church leaders from various denominations are expected to take part in some of the prayer services.
Transport will be provided to participants from the host parishes to the central venue of the meeting. Common prayer at 1 pm and 6 pm will take place under large tents, meals will be served and different workshops will take place in the afternoon.
Taizé brothers lived in Nairobi (in Mathare and Kangemi) from 1978 until 1989. Brother Roger, founder of Taize, first visited Kenya in 1978 and later in 1987.
For more information go to: http://taize.fr/en or contact the Brothers of Taizé, Mji wa Furaha, tel: +254 720 132 017, firstname.lastname@example.org
KENYA: More than 6,000 Christian Youth Converge for Prayers
NAIROBI, November 28, 2008 (CISA) -Over 6,000 Christian youth from some 25 countries are in Nairobi for a pilgrimage of prayer and to share their experiences and diverse cultures.
The event is organized by the Taize community, based in France. On Thursday, 25 young people arrived from the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo, Bro Luc who is the coordinating the event told CISA.
“What touched me most is that the youth from DRC did not have any pass or visa allowing them to travel. They got their passes at the border between Rwanda and DRC and came through Uganda to Kenya.”
Patrick Cansa from DRC said, “In Taize, I have discovered that the most import thing in life is not to loose hope and to work hard to keep that hope and give it to others.”
Coming from a country which has been unstable for years, Cansa said that governance in the DRC is weak and that the political leaders are corrupt. Congolese young people want change, he said.
Boniface Ayebare, among 440 youngsters from Uganda, said, “I have been closely associated with Taize. I first visited Taize community in France in 2001 and I stayed there for two years during which I learnt to live and share with others. Taize gave meaning to my life.”
Ayebare said peace is needed in the region. “I work with a private firm that deals with language. In this firm, we receive many refugees from DRC, Rwanda and Burundi, and when you share experiences with them you realize that these people have traversed different situations and the way you behave towards them makes a big difference.”
The event, whose theme is ‘Together, seeking paths of hope’, started on Monday and concludes on Sunday. The Taize community was founded in 1940 by Brother Roger. The aim of the group is to encourage especially the youth and to build reconciliation and peace.
AFRICA: Churches Urge More Efforts in War Against HIV/Aids
NAIROBI, December 2, 2008 (CISA) -Churches in Africa have called for more efforts to fight the HIV/Aids pandemic in a continent that is the world’s worst-hit region.
In a message to mark the 20th World Aids Day on Monday, All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) urged churches to be in the forefront, playing the vital role of awareness creation on protection against HIV/Aids.
“Urging people to know their status is the number one strategy in combating the pandemic as it helps them know the right way to deal with their status, whether positive or negative, since even those already infected still need to protect themselves,” the statement said.
This year’s special focus is on children who get infected through mother-to-child transmission. According to UNICEF, nearly 2,000 infants are infected daily with HIV during pregnancy, childbirth or breastfeeding - most of them in sub-Saharan Africa - and that everyday some 6,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 24 contract the virus. Currently, over 2 million children are infected with HIV and there are several hundred thousand children born HIV positive each year.
In spite of the alarming figures, only 9 percent of pregnant women living with HIV in the developing world are provided with drugs to prevent the virus being transmitted to their babies, AACC noted. As a result, nearly half a million children become infected with HIV every year.
“We add our voice to that of the ‘Stop AIDS in Children’ campaign that is calling on governments and international agencies to urgently improve PMTCT [prevention of mother to child transmission] coverage worldwide.”
Over 33 million people are living with HIV/Aids globally. “AACC continues to encourage churches to work to overcome ignorance and prejudice surrounding HIV/Aids and help raise awareness by selling the symbolic red ribbons and any other activity or activities they deem appropriate to halt the spread of HIV.”
The organization also urged pharmaceutical companies not to be driven by profit gains but to put human life first by making life-prolonging drugs affordable. “The latest drugs in the market are known to work miracles, have very little or no side effects and are giving hope to the infected. But much more needs to be done since only a small fraction of PLWHAS are on ARVs,” AACC said.
KENYA: Media Challenged to Highlight Issues of the Disabled
NAIROBI, December 5, 2008 (CISA) -Kenyan media has been urged to give sufficient coverage of issues of concern to persons with disabilities.
The call was made at one-day seminar for journalists held in Nairobi on Wednesday, as the world marked the day for the disabled. The seminar was jointly organized by the Centre for Multi-Party Democracy- Kenya and the Kenya Journalists Association.
The purpose of the event was to promote visibility and participation of minority groups in national affairs.
Among the recommendations made was that the media should champion the rights of people with disabilities by working with their organizations. On their part, organizations for the disabled should reach out to journalists and enlighten them on issues of concern.
It was also suggested that an award be established for reporters who excel in covering issues on persons with disabilities issues.
Meanwhile, the Vatican will not sign the UN convention that aims to stop prejudice against the persons with disabilities because the agreement is fundamentally flawed.
The Holy See says the convention leaves the door open to abortion of the handicapped babies. Though the Holy See contributed to the preparation of the text, its request to include an explicit rejection of the aborting of the disabled was not accepted.
The convention has been signed by 136 UN member states, but the Holy See is not one of them and will not be if the wording is not changed.
KENYA: Pope Backs Church’s Call for Healing Through Justice
NAIROBI, December 16, 2008 (CISA) -Pope Benedict XVI joined Kenyans in marking the nation’s 45th birthday on Friday with a call for justice.
The pope sent greetings of peace to President Mwai Kibaki and to all citizens as the country celebrated its freedom from British colonialism on December 12, 1963.
“I pray that the Almighty will bless all the people of the country with well-being as they work together to promote justice and build up the common good,” the pope wrote.
The Independence celebrations came as Kenyans awaited justice for perpetrators of the deadly post-election chaos early in the year, reform of public institutions and more accountability from the political class. Millions of Kenyans are also struggling with hunger following crop failure, the disruptive violence and inflation.
The pope’s message resonates with last month’s call by the Catholic bishops of Kenya for implementation of two important reports on last year’s flawed election.
The ‘Kriegler Report’ proposes a reformed national electoral body while the ‘Waki Report’ calls for establishment of a tribunal to try perpetrators of the post-election violence.
“The Kriegler and Waki Reports, just released, have simply brought home to us the gravity of our situation. Kenya is at a crossroads,” the bishops said. “We can take the opportunity that these reports provide to confront the “culture of impunity” or degenerate into further crises, ineptitude and moral stagnation. Consequently, we support the implementation of these reports.”
After initial opposition by politicians, and a spirited campaign by civil society and the media, parliament passed legislation to implement the reports.
The pope’s Independence Day message to Kenya shows the continued good relations between the country and the Holy See since the two established relations in 1930. Pope Pius XI set up the Apostolic Delegation of Africa in Mombasa, headed by Monsignor Arthur Hinsey, to serve nearly the entire continent.
The Holy See established full diplomatic relations with Kenya in 1996, with Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci as the first nuncio. Archbishop Alain Paul Lebeaupin succeeded Tonucci in 2005.
KENYA: Involve Youth in Peace Building, Group Urges
NAIROBI, December 19, 2008 (CISA) -A global network of young religious leaders has urged that young people be involved in all initiatives meant to bring about peace after the post-election violence.
The youth are not only victims and perpetrators of violence, but also defenders of their communities, said the Global Youth Network, an affiliate of Religions for Peace.
The leaders of the network, representing six regions of the world, held their third annual meeting in Nairobi this week as an expression of solidarity with the country following the post-election chaos in January and February.
In a statement to the media, the network deplored violence especially in Africa, noting that the continent has for years had the highest number of refugees and internally displaced persons in the world.
The 14 leaders of the global network visited Kibera, Nairobi’s largest slum which was heavily hit by the violence, to express support for young people there who chose the path of peace.
“In Kenya, as well as the rest of the world, youth have been key actors in brewing conflicts. Therefore, it is paramount that the youth who are both victims and perpetrators of violence are involved in all initiatives meant to bring about peace,” the group said. Established at the 2006 World Youth Assembly in Hiroshima, Japan, the Global Youth Network harnesses the energy and commitment of religious youth leaders all over the world to advance multi-religious cooperation for peace.