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  • First Nun in Samburu Tribe Opens Choice for Kenyan Girls

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Lilian Muendo || 30 January 2017

    first samburu nun 2017With their necks encircled with beads and massive bracelets jangling on their wrists, the women and men from Lkichaki village, Lodokejek division, in the Samburu region of Kenya welcomed Sr. Roseline Lenguris back to her home with song and dance.

    The deeply rhythmical dances, a ritual of the Samburu tribe — a traditional people akin to the Maasai — are performed during the celebration of important passages of life, such as circumcision and marriage. But this was a different celebration, the first of its kind in the Samburu community.

    It was Sr. Roseline Lenguris' first time at home since taking her final vows with the Sisters of Mary Immaculate community.

    "They received me very well, and they are not expecting any cows or grandchildren from me," said Lenguris, with a small smile.

    This wasn't always the case.

    Lenguris is the first woman from the Samburu tribe to become a Catholic sister. When the elders of the Lkichaki village, on the windswept plains of central Kenya, heard that Lenguris wanted to pursue such a vocation, their response was unanimous.

    "You had rather be dead than to live in this world without bearing children like a dry stick," they told Lenguris, a sentence that still makes her tear up, more than 15 years later.

    "That was like a curse by the elders upon me. The concept of becoming a sister is foreign to them because it has never happened in this community before. All they understood was that I wasn't going to get married and wasn't going to bear any children for the community," Lenguris said.

    The Samburus are semi-nomadic pastoralists, tracing their roots to the Nile region of South Sudan. They herd mainly cattle but also keep goats, camels and sheep as their source of livelihood. They are closely related to but distinct from the Maasai, a tribe that is well known internationally for their warrior culture and intricate beadwork.

    Located within the hot, relatively low country that heralds Kenya's vast northern deserts and semi-deserts, the Samburu still lead lives based on ancient traditions, largely defying modern trends.

    Girls grow up with one purpose: to be married and then bear children for the clan. Families receive a dowry of cattle for their daughters upon marriage, which makes many poor, rural households see girls as an investment. Because it makes financial sense to marry off a daughter quickly in order to receive the dowry, the brides are often children.

    Livestock are integral to the Samburu lifestyle, providing food and a livelihood. Marriage customs especially, including the wedding and the dowry paid for a bride, revolve around the domestic animals, highlighting their importance in the rhythm of life cycles.

    A family may need cows they receive from a daughter's marriage as dowry in order to use them to marry off their son — to provide a dowry for his marriage; this can expedite marriage for girls who are not ready.

    Children are of utmost importance in the culture because that is the way to increase wealth. If a woman does not provide children, the husband can take a second wife.

    'Two families are dead now'

    "Being a nun means you are not going to get children, and to our traditional norms it's not acceptable, it's not allowed," explains Fr. Peter Leseketeti, of the Catholic diocese of Maralal in Samburu County. Leseketeti was the first priest from the Samburu tribe. "Once you are a mature girl, you get circumcised and you are married off to go start a family, to get kids and expand the clan. Failure to do that, it is considered a curse upon you. It is an abomination in our tradition not to have children."

    When Leseketeti decided to become a priest, he faced the same resistance from the community as Lenguris. His friends, relatives and the village elders thought he was out of his mind, and none attended his ordination. His father disowned him and called him "misplaced and abnormal," Leseketeti recalled.

    "You will never see your offspring," Leseketeti remembers were his father's exact words to him. "By becoming a priest you are killing the family."

    When Lenguris decided to take the path of sisterhood, the elders came to Leseketeti and told him, "These two families are dead now."

    "The women have no rights in this community," Leseketeti said. "They cannot decide anything for themselves without the approval of the men. The elders who are men make all the decisions. They decide who marries their daughters, they decide if they go to school or not, they marry off the girls at a very early age even if the women think it's not right."

    Peinan Lenguris was married at 18 to Lenguris' cousin a year ago, hence taking up the family's surname. Her own family did not allow her to go to school. When she was married, Peinan says, her relatives were offered four cows and two goats. She had really hoped to get some education, but since she was a young girl, she was forced to spend her days herding her father's goats.

    "I am illiterate," said Peinan. "I have never been to school even one single day. I do not know how a classroom looks like. The cows offered were few, because I was a bit older, 17 years old. They had taken time to get me a suitor and, the older you are and less educated, [the fewer] cows your family gets. I wasn't given a chance to say what I wanted because I'm a woman and women here don't talk. It's a very hard life."

    The power of words

    The power of Samburu elders is linked to the strong belief in the potency of their curses. This underpins their authority over arranging marriages, their acquisition of multiple wives and their threats directed at those who fail to adhere to their traditions.

    Though the elders occupy a very important place within the Samburu society and all the power rests with them, it is uncommon for an elder to curse a junior. Curses are reserved for cases of extreme disrespect.

    When the elders cursed Lenguris, telling her, "You had rather be dead than live in this world without bearing children like a dry stick," she was shocked and then furious.

    At first, she was scared, thinking of the repercussions of such words from the elders. Lenguris remembers she thought she would die if she didn't obey. Then, drawing on her Christian education, she convinced herself that no curse would come upon anyone who believes in God. She disdained the elders at that moment.

    "At that point I felt very angry, and if I had had any weapon I would have hit them really hard with it," said Lenguris. "They had already denounced me and termed me an outcast because I wasn't going to give the community children. That's what they take women for in this community. We have no right to decide what we want to do with our lives."

    How to delay a marriage

    Defying this cultural demand of having children is seen as a sign of disrespect to the family and the community as a whole. A girl is immediately termed an outright outcast for daring to think there is any other purpose for her — or taking the bold step to follow her dream.

    A few girls in the Samburu community, inspired by Lenguris' own decision to follow her dream, have succeeded in convincing the elders to delay marriage until they were able to get some education. They were able to do so only with a promise to get married immediately after school.

    Lenguris did that in order to be able to finish her primary school education.

    When she was 13, the village elders, led by her uncles, came to her father's house with a suitor to marry her. At the time, Lenguris hadn't yet taken the exams for the end of primary school (7th grade). She pleaded with the elders to allow her to sit for the exams then get married soon after.

    "Even when I made that promise, deep inside my heart I knew I was not for marriage," said Lenguris. "I had a different calling, but the elders would never have understood. I was just buying time. All I wanted at that moment was to join high school."

    Her father, Daniel Lendikir Lenguris, was not aware of the plans by his brothers and the village elders to marry off his daughter. The elders have the monopoly on getting husbands for the young girls without even informing their fathers.

    After Lenguris' school exams, the elders returned with a suitor, but she explained to her father that she still wanted to further her education. Her father, a catechist at the local Catholic parish, supported her decision to join secondary school, but the elders would hear none of it. Her mother had already prepared for her wedding as ordered by the elders, and the elders had already received the cows for her dowry.

    "There is no way the elders were going to return those cows to the suitor," said Lenguris. "So they became violent, threatening to beat me up and to curse my entire family for defying the community's traditions. This forced me to run away to the local Catholic parish. The priest in charge helped me, and I was able to go through my secondary school education."

    Lenguris knew this decision by the parish was bound to bring conflict with the community. So, the priest in charge at the time, Fr. Adolfo Ferero, found her a Catholic family she could live with away from the parish for the four years while she undertook her secondary education.

    Though her father was not able to pay her school fees (to avoid confrontation with the elders), he supported her decision and encouraged her to follow her dream. The parish paid her school fees.

    "It was a miracle that my father stood by me because, when the elders decide no one can defy them, not even your own father can defend you," said Lenguris.

    After finishing secondary school, Lenguris announced to her father and the elders that she wanted to become a nun. The elders were furious, cursing her and trying to force her to get married and have children.

    Lenguris' father, who later repaid the dowry with some of his cows, defied the elders and gave his daughter the go-ahead to join the Sisters of Mary Immaculate convent. Her biological sisters, who are also educated, fully supported her, and her oldest sister is a teacher. Her brothers took the side of the elders, however and wanted her to marry.

    Catholicism is not widespread in Samburu, and Lenguris' father is among the few converted Christians in the community. He was the first Catholic catechist in the region where Christian missionaries have proselytized the Maasai for many years with little success. But within the last decade, a few from the Samburu community have converted, including Lenguris' father. He has helped the church in fighting negative traditions in the community like female genital mutilation, early marriages and polygamy.

    When 86-year-old Daniel Lenguris supported his daughter's decision to continue with her education and later became a nun, the elders were not happy and threatened to segregate his family from the community. His two wives, one with whom he ended a marital relationship after his conversion to Catholicism but whom he still supports financially, have backed him in his decision. Sr. Lenguris' mother prepared for her wedding as per the orders from the elders, but when her husband supported their daughter's decision to further her education, she stepped back.

    Lenguris took her final vows on April 26, 2016, and reconciled with her relatives and the elders. Her brothers have since changed their minds and lauded her for the accomplishment.

    During the celebrations held when Lenguris returned home as a fully professed sister for the first time on August 8, 2016, Daniel Lenguris said he would allow any other of his daughters to become a sister if they so wished. He has 11 children from his two wives: five girls and seven sons.

    "Looking at how Roseline has turned out to be a fine girl, I know it is a good thing and I would allow any other of my daughters to become sisters," he said. "It is good for parents to let their girls follow their dreams, and as a father I would not oppose whatever they decide. Let them serve God."

    The elders, who came to welcome her back home after her final vows, now seem comfortable with the decision she made 15 years ago.

    Three of the elders who had found a suitor for Lenguris have since passed away, and only one was present at her homecoming ceremony. This elder was the first guest to arrive at her father's home to welcome her back to the village and to give her his blessings, the same blessings that he had denied her 15 years ago when she announced that she was going to pursue sisterhood.

    The communitywide celebration for Lenguris, a sign of acceptance and support, prompted some young women to wonder what they could have been.

    "I wish I had an opportunity to go to school like her," said Peinan Lenguris, looking at her sister-in-law with admiration. "I would be better placed today. I would really have liked to become a nun like her."

    Lenguris has now embarked on a process of enlightening the elders on the rights of women and girls. When she arrived in the village for her celebration, she held a meeting with all the elders where she talked to them about the importance of taking their daughters to school and allowing them to follow their dreams. She says they all expressed willingness to permit their girls to go to school.

    "We have given you a go-ahead," Lenguris recalled that the elders told her. "Go talk to the girls and convince them about school. We have brought them up with the idea of marriage. We might not be able to convince them otherwise."

    Lenguris says she started talking to the girls since her first vows in 2008 and has realized the girls need encouragement to be able to make free choices. She says several have enrolled in school, inspired by her example.

    Lenguris is now a teacher at Mary Immaculate Primary School in Nanyuki County, neighboring Samburu County to the north. During school holidays, she travels back to her village to meet with girls living there. She goes to areas outside her village in the region to serve as an example in empowering girls to follow their dreams.

    "Many of them still believe marriage is what they are meant for, because they grew up being told that by the elders," said Lenguris. "I'm trying to change their mentality."

    [Lilian Muendo is a freelance journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Southern Africa Church to celebrate St. Bakhita Day

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 27 January 2017

    sacbc to celebrate bakhita day 2017The Apostolic Nuncio to South Africa says he is happy the Bishops of Southern Africa have proclaimed special activities to mark the feast of St. Bakhita.

    The Church in South Africa plans to celebrate Saint Bakhita Day with prayer and reflection on 8 February; a marching parade and Interfaith Service on 9 February. This is according to information made available by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC). The marching and interfaith celebrations are meant to raise awareness about the serious problem of Human Trafficking in Africa.

    Organisers have planned for marchers to gather in Pretoria at 229 Jorissen Street in the Sunnyside area on 9 February. The marching parade will then proceed to Pretoria's Sacred Heart Cathedral situated at the corner of Bosman and Nana Sita streets in the Central Business District (CBD).

    According to the SABC website, “Saints are the icons of faith.  They inspire us to live life beyond the obvious in serving God in His Vineyard. St Josephine Bakhita is one of our own who persevered the injustices imposed by humanity to become the victor of faith.”

    8 February is the actual feast day of St. Bakhita. Activities are also planned in various dioceses.

    St. Josephine Bakhita was born in Sudan’s embattled Darfur region in 1868. Captured at the age of 9 years, she was sold into slavery, first in her country and later to Italy. After life as a slave, she eventually became a Canossian religious sister in Italy and worked for 45 years. She died in 1947.

    In the year 2000, she was declared a saint by Pope St. John Paul II.  Saint Bakhita is the patron saint of Sudan but is now also promoted as a patron saint of victims of slavery and trafficked persons.

    According to SABC, Saint Bakhita has become the patron for those who suffer in the same way she suffered. 

    “Let us celebrate the Day of St Josephine Bakhita with honour, praying for our brothers and sisters who find themselves under the barbaric experience of being trafficked and all the victims of Human Trafficking, and mostly let us pray for an end to Human Trafficking, especially by also praying for the conversion of the agents of this terrible practice,” say the Bishops’ Conference of South Africa.

    Addressing the Bishops of Southern Africa, this week, during the opening session of their Plenary, the Apostolic Nuncio to Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland, Archbishop Peter Wells, told them that he was pleased the SACBC planned to celebrate the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita with prayer and fasting.

    “When we talk about those who are suffering, I am happy to note that the SACBC has proclaimed the feast day of St Josephine Bakhita on February 8 as a day of prayer and reflection on the continuing scourge of the abuse of women and children, particularly with regard to human trafficking. I think it is timely that we refer to this topic,” the Apostolic Nuncio said.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Vatican Secretary of State Currently in Madagascar, to Visit Congo Brazzaville Via Kenya

    Vatican Radio || 30 January 2017

    vatican sec of state in madagascar 2017Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, is currently visiting Madagascar from 26 January to 1 February. The Cardinal is in that country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Madagascar.

    On the first day of his visit, the Secretary of State met with President Hery Rajaonarimampianina at the Presidential Palace. The Head of State was flanked by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. Cardinal Parolin was accompanied by the Apostolic Nuncio and some of the country’s Bishops. Also present was Cardinal Maurice Piat, the Bishop of Port-Louis in Mauritius.

    Leaders of other Christian denominations joined the reception that followed the meeting.

    President Rajaonarimampianina expressed appreciation for the visit, recalling the good relations between the Holy See and Madagascar, over the last 50 years. He spoke in glowing terms of his visit to Pope Francis in June 2014.

    The President recognised the important role that the Catholic Church plays with its institutions contributing to the social development of all citizens in Madagascar, particularly in the education and health sector. Rajaonarimampianina hoped that the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of diplomatic relations would serve to strengthen ties between the Holy See and Madagascar.

    For his part, Cardinal Parolin conveyed the affectionate greetings of Pope Francis to the people of Madagascar. The Cardinal Secretary of State expressed his sincere gratitude for the extraordinarily warm welcome that was reserved for him in Madagascar. Building on the reason for his visit, he expressed the readiness of the Holy See to continue the fruitful collaboration with Madagascar.

    The Holy See prelate encouraged the local Church in Madagascar to continue contributing to the spiritual and social well-being of all citizens. He hoped that his visit would help support an agreement towards the full legal recognition of institutions of the Church.

    Later, the Cardinal Secretary of State was decorated with the Grand Officer of the National Order of Madagascar award.

    From Madagascar, Cardinal Parolin is scheduled to travel to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo with a brief stop-over in Nairobi, Kenya.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Thousands in Kenya Witness Final Transfer of St. Don Bosco’s Relics

    CANAA || By Sr. Lydia Mukari, SMK, Nairobi || 30 January 2017

    don bosco relicts transfered to nairobi shrineOver four thousand Catholic faithful from different nations of the world congregated Sunday, January 29, in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, to witness the final transfer of the first class relics of the patron of the youth, St. Don Bosco.

    The relics, which consist of pieces of bone and tissue from Don Bosco’s right hand and arm, were permanently transferred to Mary Help of Christians Shrine in Nairobi’s Upper Hill area during the Sunday morning ceremony presided over the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya, Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo.

    The event started with a solemn procession from Kenya’s Nyayo Stadium after the relics, which were previously at Don Bosco’s Utume Institute in Nairobi’s Karen area, were brought there.

    Placed in a wax replica of Don Bosco’s body at the time of his death in 1888 and set in a glass box mounted on a wood and metal cart, the relics were in the middle of the procession, which was led by a police band.

    The bone and tissue were exhumed from Don Bosco’s grave at the time of his beatification in 1929.

    The relics have been viewed in all continents of the world through a 130-country tour, which started in January 2009 to mark the 150th anniversary of the Salesians of Don Bosco and the 200th birthday of Don Bosco in 2015.

    St. feast day of St. Don Bosco is January 31.

    In his homily, The Nuncio expressed his “great admiration” for the Salesian family for the good work they are doing for children and the youth by following the principles of reason, religion and kindness, which Don Bosco left them.

    The Papal representative to Kenya called on the faithful to be good shepherds in the example of St. Don Bosco saying, “Jesus called other people to continue the work he had begun, to be the good shepherds who would shepherd people according to the heart of Christ. One of them is Saint Don Bosco who cared for street children and the young people.”

    Born in Northern Italy in 1815, Don Bosco grew up at a time when Italy was going through tough times economically, socially and politically. Through self-giving, he transformed the situation of the youth he could reach.

    “Like Saint Don Bosco,” Archbishop Balvo continued, “we too are called to follow in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ who laid down his life for humanity.”

    He further said that children are innocent and dependent on adults and termed breaking our trust with children as a grave sin in the eyes of God. He reiterated the words of Saint Don Bosco to his brothers that we need to be patient with children even though they may not be easy to deal with.

    “Even if you have to disappoint children, do so with love,” he said.

    Also in attendance were the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) Chair, Bishop Philip Anyolo of Homabay diocese, the Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco, Father Angel Fernandez Artime, Sisters of Mary Help of Christians founded by St. Don Bosco, hundreds of religious men and women from different religious institutes and orders, youth, pupils and students from Don Bosco schools, among thousands of other Catholic faithful.

    New members of the family of the Salesians of Don Bosco made a public promise to live as Salesian Cooperators during the event.

    KCCB Chairman, Bishop Anyolo called on Christians to show mercy to each other especially the young who are vulnerable following the example of St. Don Bosco.

    He also had a message of peace to Kenyans as they prepare for the general elections scheduled for August 8, 2017.

    “For the year of elections, we want people to talk to each other especially politicians. They are using very abusive language, which is not good because our identity is destroyed. Let us use good language that can build the nation and promote peace,” Bishop Anyolo said.

    Meanwhile, the Director of Mary Help of Christians Shrine where Don Bosco’s relics were permanently transferred, Father Abel Njeru described Don Bosco as “a friend, teacher and father of youth who is coming among us to bless our young people.”

    “Saint Don Bosco comes at a time when our country is entering elections and he will intercede and pray for us,” Father Njeru said.

    A body part or piece of clothing, relics are venerated for providing a physical connection between a saint and God.

    The practice has been known to date back to the beginning of the Church, when Roman authorities persecuted and put to death early Christians.

    Sr. Lydia Mukari belongs to the congregation of the Sisters of Mary of Kakamega (SMK). She is studying Communications at Daystar University in Nairobi.

  • Ivory Coast Bishops Urge Calm Amid Strikes, Mutinies

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || 25 January 2017

    ivory coast bishops urge calm 2017Catholic bishops in Ivory Coast have launched a campaign of fasting and prayer for peace after a wave of army mutinies and civil service strikes.

    In a message published Jan. 23, the bishops spoke of the people's "social malaise" and said the current unrest, "far from calming spirits, is inciting passions and anxieties."

    "We immediately invite all elements of society to gather round a single table and debate all issues relating to security, high costs of living, youth unemployment and working conditions," the bishops said.

    The bishops thanked the government of President Alassane Ouattara for attempts to develop the French-speaking country, but they urged greater efforts to "redistribute the fruits of growth" and ensure equal justice and security guarantees for all.

    The message added that the fasts and prayers would start Jan. 25 and include Masses for peace in Catholic parishes Jan. 29.

    "Some of our compatriots are still unjustly detained in prison, while others live in exile, and combatants and military personnel implicated in the successive crisis which shook our country are uneasy about their future," the bishops said.

    "Many youngsters who hoped for a better life are expressing disappointment and bitterness more and more. If we are not careful, this worsening climate risks gravely compromising all registered gains, the fruits of our work," the bishops said.

    The bishops said they understood people's frustrations because, for many years, "you legitimately hoped for a better life for yourselves and your offspring, and yet you see no dawn on the horizon."

    "Yet you could still offer Ivory Coast the chance to advance on a path of prosperity for all -- and we, your bishops, stand ready to accompany a process of dialogue and reconciliation," they said.

    Catholic priests and Muslim imams staged joint prayers Jan. 20 in Bouake, one of the cities affected by army unrest, while Muslim leaders in Abidjan also launched a peace appeal Jan. 21, warning that disputes within the security forces had caused alarm "when most West African countries face a challenge from terrorism and transnational insecurity."

  • Church Leader in Nigeria Says Catholic Church Will Support Political Leaders, Expresses “worry” About Crisis Situations

    Catholic News Service of Nigeria (CNSN) || 24 January 2017

    archbishop kaigama on supporting political leaders 2017The Catholic Church will continue to pledge her collaboration with our political leaders for the overall improvement of the lives of ordinary Nigerians, Archbishop Ignatius Ayau Kaigama has stated.

    The Archbishop made this remark in his good will message at Nnewi to mark the 70th birthday celebration of the Bishop of the Catholic diocese of Nnewi, Most Rev Hilary Odili Okeke

    Archbishop Kaigama, who is also the President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) expressed worry about the alarming crisis situations of criminal herdsmen attacking farmers in almost all the parts of the country which appears not to be attended to with the same zeal and enthusiasm with which Boko Haram is being tackled.

    “We worry a lot about the crisis situations with terrible consequences in our country. One of these is the issue of criminal herdsmen attacking others, especially farmers. This is very unsettling and it seems to have no end as it continues to raise its ugly head in different parts of our country and yet not much is being seen to be done with the same zeal as in the case of Boko Haram.”

    While admitting that “animal husbandry just like farming is a very important aspect of our economy especially in the face of dwindling revenue from oil”, the prelate however noted that “the rearing of cattle and other animals must not lead to constant friction, forceful occupation of land or needless deaths.”

    Must cattle wander the streets, penetrate into neighborhoods, airports, markets, schools, etc? the CBCN President queried.

    “Certainly, there must be a better/modern way of cattle-rearing and the government knows this:  It is called ranching.” He advised

    Finally, Archbishop Kaigama also used the occasion to appeal to all government officials and Legislators as well as media houses to covey the worries and sentiments of the Bishops Conference of Nigeria to the Federal Government with regard to the depilated nature of federal roads in the country.

    “May I request our officials of government present here and the media to kindly convey the worries of the Catholic Bishops about this to the Federal Government and to also express our concern about most of our federal roads which are really in bad condition.  We know that such roads were constructed poorly at highly exaggerated costs and generally are never maintained and have to wait long years until new inflated contracts are awarded! A journey of 640 kilometres from Jos through Makurdi, Otukpo, 9th Mile, Awka, Agulu, Nnobi to Nnewi that could easily be done in six hours took us over eleven hours!  I pray and hope that the roads into the hearts of Nigerians will be better than our Nigerian roads!”  he concluded.

    Source: Catholic News Service of Nigeria… 

  • A Nairobi-based Catholic University’s Leaders Guild to Discuss “Leaders of Integrity in Kenya” at a Workshop

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 26 January 2017

    leaders of integrity tlg 2017 workshopA workshop aimed at preparing a section of Kenyans to make informed decisions in choosing their political representatives is being organized at the Nairobi-based Tangaza University College (TUC) next Thursday.

    The Leaders Guild (TLG), an alumni association of TUC’s Centre for Leadership and Management (CLM) is planning the one-day session, expected to take place next week Thursday, February 2, 2017 under the theme, “Leaders of integrity in Kenya: What’s my responsibility in this?”

    “Our objective is to enlighten the participants that they may make informed decision and elect ethical leaders who can influence positive transformation in the society,” the Coordinator of TLG, Sr. Margaret Mutiso, has told CANAA.

    In line with the Kenyan Constitution, which requires that there be a general election on the second Tuesday in August every fifth year, the next general election is scheduled to be held on August 8, 2017.

    “The workshop is timely because of the period we're in as a country,” Sr. Mutiso told CANAA, citing the ongoing countrywide voter registration exercise as well as the spirited political campaigns ahead of the August elections.

    “Our target audience are leaders from differed sectors including religious women and men, alumni, students, organizational leaders, entrepreneurs, among others,” Sr. Mutiso who is a member of the religious order of the Daughters of the Sacred Heart (DSH) said in reference to the forthcoming workshop.

    Sponsored by the Hilton N. Conrad Foundation, the workshop is a follow-up of the conference held in November 2016 organized under the theme: “leading with integrity.”

    The November 7th conference brought together some 182 participants drawn from different organizations, colleges, universities, and individual entrepreneurs.

    With the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta seeking reelection, Kenyan voters will be expected to cast six ballots including that of the President, members of Parliament, members of the Senate, County governors, Women representatives, and Ward representatives.

    Other African countries expected to conduct general elections include Rwanda, Angola, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

  • DR Congo Bishops Warn Peace Process Faltering

    Vatican Radio || 25 January 2017

    drc bishops warm peace process falteringBishops leading negotiations between political leaders in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are warning that unless a crucial political agreement is signed by 28 January all efforts to achieve peace will have been in vain.

    The Catholic Church became a mediator between political parties after President Joseph Kabila failed to step down at the end of his constitutional mandate on 19 December after 16 years in power.

    A deal was signed on 31 December that aims to pave the way for the first ever peaceful transition of power in the nation.

    However, Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Vice President of the Catholic Church's National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), and one of the mediators who directed negotiations between the political majority and the opposition, told Fides News Agency this week that “the bad faith of the politicians is putting strain on the patience of the pastors”.

    Archbishop Besungu also said that the bishops are due to depart for Geneva on 29 January and if the agreement is not signed by then “it is over”.

    The deal would see Kabila leave power after an election at the end of this year. During a direct negotiations session all parties had agreed that the signing of the special arrangement would take place on 28 January.

    Meanwhile, several people throughout the country have been killed in violent clashes while stakeholders are reportedly still struggling to agree on issues related to the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of a government.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Killings in Southern Kaduna Have “a religious colouring,” Cardinal in Nigeria Warns, Calls on President Buhari to Take Action

    Nigeria’s Daily Post || By Wale Odunsi || 22 January 2017

    cardinal onaiyekan on southern kaduna killingsThe Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, has warned that the ongoing killing in South Kaduna is a dangerous sign Nigeria is ignoring.

    He said it was unfortunate that some prominent Nigerians and government officials are insiting that the crises has no religious undertone when that is clearly what is happening.

    “Immediately you play into a religious matter, nobody can intervene in any serious way and that is really a pity,” told Punch

    “This is why the statement attributed to the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau, is generating ripples.

    “He tried to say we should not give this any religious colouring but the fact is that there is now a religious colouring and that is what he must admit and tackle.

    “Whether it is in Southern Kaduna or in Plateau State, all these conflicts are a continuation of the tribal wars of the last century and those tribal wars have some religious connotation.

    “After all, they are called Jihad. We are in a situation now whereby, for historical reasons, any conflict in that area takes up a religious tone which is why it becomes very difficult to handle”.

    On claim that over 800 lives have been lost in recent months, Onaiyekan said “The statement of the Catholic Diocese of Kafanchan was issued more than a month ago. This is a serious allegation.”

    “It is clear (from), concrete statistics of damage done, lives lost, homes destroyed, people displaced and I am sure they have evidence of all these allegations.

    “For the governor and indeed the President to still say everything is okay is dangerous because it means that it is okay that people are getting killed.

    “For me, it is better, easier, and more effective if the president simply insists that no human being should be badly treated. Any Nigerian should have the right not to be killed

    “I have no reason to doubt the statistics which my colleague has put together. I believe that he just did not sit back in his house and draw up those numbers. I believe in those numbers and I am very worried about them.

    “He sent it to all the bishops in Nigeria and we are all in one way or the other reacting to it. What exactly can we do? There should be a meeting of people who are not just Christians or Muslims.

    “We believe that if what is happening in Southern Kaduna is not stemmed, it can become very dangerous for the whole country.”

    Speaking on the seeming silence of President Muhammadu Buhari, the cleric said he is the only one who can take responsibility because sincerity is in the heart.

    “You know how difficult it is to get to Aso Villa, so it is possible for the President to sit there looking through all kinds of papers.

    “There are a lot of issues to deal with in Nigeria: economic, climate change, diplomatic relations, Boko Haram and then somebody brings a file on Southern Kaduna and it depends on how the person who brings it presents it and it is possible that Mr. President can sit there and not know how bad the situation is.

    “The President doesn’t send someone to the newsstand to buy newspapers. Somebody looks at the newspapers and brings him the items that he is supposed to pay attention to.

    “There is no excuse for Mr. President to be kept in the dark about it and if I were Mr. President and I finally found out that all these things have been happening and I was not told, then all those who should have informed me would be fired immediately.

    “They are destroying his work. I am saying this because it will be difficult for Mr President to know all these things and keep quiet. If he does, it means that he is happy with what is happening.

    “Some are even suggesting that maybe he is behind it all, well if he does nothing, he cannot stop people from speculating that.”

    Source: Daily Post…

  • Speak out now in the fight for justice for children: Nun Working with Minors

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Sr. Teresa Anyabuike || 23 January 2017

    speaking for justice of childrenI attended a conference recently that led me to reflect upon the importance of raising awareness of sexual violence against children and protecting them from abuse. Children need better information, parents need to speak up and society needs to actively protect the vulnerable.

    The protection of the youngest is of utmost important because they are the future of our world, with full rights to live without fear of anyone. This is the duty of every responsible adult. Catholics, lay and religious, have a role to play in protecting minors and vulnerable adults. One of the most important roles is to listen and be attentive to them and also to create avenues for them to share their stories.

    The conference, organized by the U.S.-based African Faith and Justice Network, brought together more than 80 Catholic sisters from about 25 congregations in Nigeria's capital city, Abuja, to deliberate on issues of social justice, advocacy, service, change and nation building. It was an enriching conference as speakers from different fields shared their knowledge with the sisters.

    Sisters work directly with minors in their different grassroots ministries, especially schools. They have been called to be the voice of the voiceless and advocate for people unjustly treated. Anyone can do this job, but sisters have given their one and only life to work with the poor and vulnerable of the society. They effect change in the lives of others by giving information, listening to their stories and being there for them.

    The most important part of the conference for me was the reflection on gender-based violence, especially sexual abuse. It was shocking to learn how many boys and girls are sexually abused. Statistics vary, but DoSomething.org estimates that as many as one in every three girls and one in every five boys experience different forms of sexual abuse before they turn 18. This statistic is almost worldwide. This is alarming; we need to stand up against violence of this kind.

    It is also worrisome to know that the perpetrators are mostly relatives of the victims or household help, not strangers. In one example related at the conference, a child was fondled in front of her parents as she sat on a young man's lap. The parents thought he was playing with their daughter since he was an uncle to the little girl.

    We need to be observant and careful to detect when abuse is taking place. Ugly incidences happen in front of us, yet we do not know. Parents should create room for their children to share their experiences. Otherwise children may stay silent, perhaps thinking that what a relative does is okay.

    It is outrageous that victims are often threatened not to say anything. This is a form of mental torture. In one case, an abuser threatened a child not to tell her parents or she would lose both parents and the abuser would continue to harm her. When the girl summoned the courage, she told her parents; sadly they didn't believe her because the abuser was her step-brother.

    From my interaction with children, they are often afraid to tell their stories to their parents, fearing they would be scolded or ignored. Sometimes parents doubt their children and warn them never to speak of it again, especially when the accused is related to the parents. There are consequences to this denial. The children find solace outside their homes and become prey to new abusers. This is because children have the tendency to love, trust and confide to anyone who listens to their stories and buys them gifts. So parents should be very careful.

    Victims and their families live in a culture of denial, guilt, threat and fear. Parents are afraid that their child or children will be stigmatized if their experience is disclosed. This can happen when the parents are not well informed and they feel talking about it will put the child under a spotlight. And some parents have no time for their children, leaving them alone while they are busy chasing money, forgetting that the money will be useless or unimportant if their children are not there to share it.

    There is a lot parents ought to do in order to win the trust of their children. Listening and paying attention draws them close, so they feel secure and loved. Once a child knows that her loved ones are always there for her, the child opens up and shares the story that touches her. Pushing them away makes children vulnerable to any violence.

    Here is a situation that needs urgent attention: When a child lacks the basic care she deserves in a home, a lot of things can go wrong. Any children who sought care and love and found it outside the home would be at the mercy of the care provider.

    On my way to work one day, I saw a young girl of about 12 crying. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me that she was asked to go home and get her school fees. When I asked about her parents, she said that they lived in the city and rarely came home. The girl lived with her grand mum, who has no money to pay her school fees.

    I empathized with the girl and gave her money that I had with me because I felt she was vulnerable to any ugly situation. I'm glad I did what I did because an abuser could have used such a situation to take advantage of a child.

    In order to help end sexual violence, especially child sexual abuse, parents and guardians also should empower children with age-appropriate information concerning their bodies. A lot of parents shy away from this, but when a child doesn't get an answer from her parents there is a tendency to look for the answer from the outside. This is very dangerous.

    Sexual abuse is an epidemic that has eaten deep into families and the society at large. It's high time families spoke up and killed the silence rather than covering up such crime. Parents should be observant and available to their children, and I believe that when parents teach their children well, they will follow their parents' words and actions.

    [Teresa Anyabuike is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She is the coordinator of Catholic Community Self-help Association, a department in Justice Development and Peace Mission, Ilorin diocese, Kwara State. She likes working with children because of their simplicity which challenges her.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • Zambia's President and Catholic Bishops’ Meeting Calls for Regular Dialogue, Collaboration

    Lusasa Times || 21 January 2017

    zambia president and bishops meeting jan 2017President Edgar Chagwa Lungu of Zambia has held what State House described as a very successful meeting with Representatives of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) led by its President Archibishop Telesphore George Mpundu, with a clarion call to Government and the Church to have constant dialogue and collaboration on matters affecting the nation.

    According to a statement released to the media by State House Press Aide Amos Chanda, President Lungu underscored the need for constant dialogue and collaboration between Government and the Church on issues pertaining to the welfare of the nation and pledged commitment to closely work with the Church to uplift the welfare of the Zambian people.

    The President also acknowledged the need for clear separation between Government and the Church.

    At the meeting held at State House Friday, January 20, the President also expressed concern at the manifestation of tribalism in society and emphasised the need for Government and the Church to work together to address the challenge.

    The President has also directed that the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs must work together with the Ministry of General Education on how best the issue of tribalism can be incorporated in the education system.

    “Tribalism has become a huge challenge. There is need for the Church to work together with Government to address this issue.’’

    The President has also hailed the efforts that the Catholic Church has continued to make in promoting education and health in the country and pledged that the appeal by the Church towards the development of the Catholic University in Kalulushi district on the Copperbelt Province will be looked into.

    The President has also assured the Bishops that the Minister of Health will be tasked to look into the longstanding issue of remuneration for Classified Employees working in Catholic Hospitals because Government was committed to ensuring that those in employment were fairly remunerated.

    President Lungu also assured the Bishops that he was committed to forging the country’s socio economic development forward hence he was doing everything possible that this was achieved.

    The President was accompanied to the meeting by Presidential Affairs Minister Hon. Freedom Sikazwe and Hon. Rev. Godfridah Sumaili, Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs.

    And the ZCCB President the Most Rev. Telesphore George Mpundu who is also the Archbishop of Lusaka congratulated the President for his electoral victory in the August 11, 2016 general elections and wished him and the Cabinet God’s blessings as they serve the nation.

    Archbishop Mpundu echoed President Lungu’s sentiments on the need for the Church and Government to work closely.

    On tribalism, Archibishop Mpundu equally expressed concern saying tribalism was a reality which must not be ignored, and encouraged the President not to relent in his efforts to denounce and fight the vice in order to promote coexistence and national building.

    On education, Archbishop Mpundu pledged that the Catholic Church will continue to supplement the efforts of Government in the education sector because of its commitment to Zambia’s future.
    The ZCCB also expressed appreciation to the President in the manner that he is forging national development.

    Other Bishops who attended the meeting include ZCCB Vice-President and Bishop of Ndola Rt. Rev. Dr. Alick Banda, Rt Rev. Bishop George Lungu of Chipata, Rt Rev. Bishop Charles Kasonde of Solwezi, Rt Rev. Bishop Justin Mulenga of Mpika and Rt Rev, Bishop Valentine Kalumba of Livingstone.

    Source: Lusaka Times… 

  • See Beyond “communiqués by the Catholic Bishops,” Bishop in Nigeria Urges

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 23 January 2017

    bishop badejo on going beyond communiquesThe Catholic Bishop of Oyo diocese in Nigeria, Bishop Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo, has encouraged Nigerians to look beyond press statements, which Catholic Bishops release and besides appreciating such communiqués as a key way of witnessing to Christ, acknowledge other initiatives undertaken by the Church.

    “I find unfortunate, the way some people are beginning to look at the issuing of communiqués by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria,” Bishop Badejo stated in an interview on Saturday explaining, “People talk about it as if it is the least that the Church can do but it is actually one of the highest sources of witnessing to Christ.”

    Bishop Badejo who also Chairs the Pan-African Episcopal Committee of Social Communications (CEPACS) went on to argue, “The issuing of Communiqués is a way of teaching and making the voice of the Church heard and it is one of the highest responsibilities that the conference can undertake. Even if the Church were to do nothing at all but speak, that would have been a great witness to Christ. But the Church is doing lot more than that. The problem is that we belong to a society today where people see what is not and forget to think about what is.”

    He encouraged Nigerians to recognize other significant initiatives launched and sustained by the Church for the benefit of all in society and sited education and health services.

    “People tend to completely ignore the effort the Church has consistently made to affect the Nigerian society in her mission of education,” Bishop Badejo said, adding, “The setting up of schools, educational institutes, formation centers, even seminaries and formation houses are activities of the church that have transformed the society.”

    He went on to explain, “A lot of people have been in this society who did a lot of good they may not have done without the formation they received from the educational institute that the Church has set up.”

    Acknowledging the role of Catholic nuns in the health sector, Bishop Badejo stated, “The Church has shown likewise commitment in the area of health.  Some people completely ignore the work of the sisters in this regard. They are a silent but active working group and they belong to the Catholic Church.”

    Below is the full text of the interview availed to CANAA, which Bishop Badejo had with the magazine of the Oblates of the Virgin Mary in Nigeria.

    NiCE: My Lord, we would like you to begin by telling us about yourself, especially for the benefit of our readers who may not know much about you.

    Bishop: My name is Emmanuel Adetoyese Badejo. I am the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Oyo. I have been a bishop for about nine years now and this year is my 30th year as a priest. I was ordained for the old Diocese of Oyo which is now the new Oyo diocese out of which Oshogbo Diocese was carved out in 1995. The Formal Bishop of the Old Oyo Diocese, Bishop Julius Babatunde Adelapo, whom I succeeded as the Bishop of Oyo Diocese was the one who sent me to study communication at some point. It was due to that fact that I was appointed as the director of communications for the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria.

    NiCE: Talking about religious and social values, how will you describe the relationship between them?

    Bishop: I think that religion is the source of all values in some way. Positive values and ideals are all of divine origin. Since God has created every human being in his own image and likeness, the more a human being desires to become like God the more he generates and lives according to values but the more he lives against the values in society the more he departs from the source of his existence which is God himself. So there is a very close link between religion and what we have come to know as social values. We speak of some values as social values today because they have been divested of their religious orientation over the years. In any case, values are what make society more livable, more humane and more accommodating to the human species.

    NiCE: What is your assessment of the mass media in terms of promoting or demoting values in Africa especially that of peaceful co-existence?

    Bishop: Since 1935 when the Catholic Church began to write on the means of communication, she has always declared that the means of communication are a positive gift from God to humanity because they enable humanity to extend themselves beyond just talking from one person to the other. As noted in one of the documents of the Church, communio et progressio, they are supposed to advance the progress and the mutual benefit of all human beings. Unfortunately in the hands of some unscrupulous human beings, they are used today more for exploitation, for dividing people and even sometimes to promote struggle, strife and war. In the last couple of years, the messages of the Holy Father have tried to address these matters. Of particular interest here is the one that tries to address the issue of globalization where the Pope asked whether the means of mass communication which have made the world one village, have made us neighbours or brothers and sisters. The answer is no. But that is what they actually should be doing.

    NiCE: As you rightly noted, core values are directly and indirectly threatened in our society today. How does the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria and other bodies of leaders in the African Church respond to this situation: besides issuing communiqués, are there other efforts made in this regard?

    Bishop: let me begin by saying that I find unfortunate, the way some people are beginning to look at the issuing of communiqués by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria. People talk about it as if it is the least that the Church can do but it is actually one of the highest sources of witnessing to Christ. The issuing of Communiqués is a way of teaching and making the voice of the Church heard and it is one of the highest responsibilities that the conference can undertake. Even if the Church were to do nothing at all but speak, that would have been a great witness to Christ. But the Church is doing lot more than that. The problem is that we belong to a society today where people see what is not and forget to think about what is.

    People tend to completely ignore the effort the Church has consistently made to affect the Nigerian society in her mission of education. The setting up of schools, educational institutes, formation centers, even seminaries and formation houses are activities of the church that have transformed the society. A lot of people have been in this society who did a lot of good they may not have done without the formation they received from the educational institute that the Church has set up. The Church has shown likewise commitment in the area of health.  Some people completely ignore the work of the sisters in this regard. They are a silent but active working group and they belong to the Catholic Church.

    During the jubilee year 2000, the Church decided to be even more aggressive in relating to social issues. That is the source of the setting up of the Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC). Practically every diocese in Nigeria today has an office of JDPC. They do a plethora of things for people: Women empowerment, skill acquisition, legal assistance, helping to free prisoners, credit facilities for people who are disempowered, monitor electoral processes and even teach about the rights of citizens in a democracy. So there is a continous intervention of the church in the society.

    The Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria at many stages of the country’s life has been a very effective organ of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria to intervene in issues of the society. When I was serving at the Catholic Secretariat of Nigeria, the secretariat became practically the center for the exchange of ideas of people who matter, we took issues on and addressed them and even got the attention of the military government at the time that kept warning us that we were probably going beyond our boundaries. We knew we weren’t going beyond our boundaries; we were just trying to make the voice of the Church heard in things that matter in the society. More recently the conference has taken a different strategy from criticizing government on the pages of the newspaper or on the television. In the last one year the conference has paid about three visits to the president of this country and his cabinet to enumerate the things that the conference taught should be looked after in this country that the president has to pay attention to.  

    NiCE: The pulpit which has been a very important means of communicating values is greatly abused today. How can it be helped to retain its glory as a place where God directs his people on the right path?

    Bishop: The Catholic Church recently had a conference in Abuja on Pentecostalism and that was a very good opportunity to interrogate the abuse, misuse, underuse, and overuse of the pulpit to promote all sorts of charlatanism, ideas and sometimes anti-values. There are people today who from the pulpit preach that contraception is okay. Some people preach from the pulpit to justify abortion, to justify even divorce and they call themselves pastors. Over the ages people have invented theologies and doctrines and preach homilies to sustain injustice. Even apartheid has its own apostles and its own theology at the time.

    To rescue the pulpit we must first realize that the pulpit is no longer just a traditional piece of wood with something flat at the top where you can put the bible and speak to people. The pulpit has moved to any where human beings gather, or can listen to anything.  It may be at a gathering of Muslim friends, in the market place, when I visit somebody, or on the road where I meet a group of police men who may be trying to extort money. It has amazed me several times how receptive people are when you don’t have the entire paraphenelia of the Church surrounding you.

    Our hospitals and schools are privileged pulpits. When people are ill they are most open to spiritual socilitation and if we give them healing in the body while shoudn’t we attempt to give them healing in the soul. Similarly, if the children in the classroom learn mathematics, geography and history from us, while not bible; while not values. If those people who work for the agents of darkness have realized faster than us that everywhere is a pulpit we have ourselves to blame that we didn’t realize it fast enough. So we have to get our hearts together and move in the right direction, make our skills acceptable and make our message acceptable. It is not true that Christianity has been rejected in the world.

    NiCE:  Human freedom is supposed to lead to the observance of values that are not opposed to faith, reason and good morals. The opposite seems to be the case today. By what means is the Church helping the human person towards a proper use of freedom.

    Bishop: The Church believes that human freedom although created by God and given as a gift of God depends on a well formed conscience. The conscience is not the source of values; God is the source of values and the conscience is a witness to them. The conscience needs to be formed in other to witness effectively to values. The Church has always formed consciences by education, catechesis and homilies. Unfortunately, the formators of consciences today are far more numerous than they were fifty years ago. Fifty years ago anybody who wanted to think about anything spiritual or moral turns to the Church quite naturally. Today, they turn to anything except the Church. They listen to radio, listen to new music and watch new videos. All these have a domineering influence on them. So, people choose wrongly today because their consciences have been badly formed.

    The world is the way it is today because the government that is supposed to regulate society for the better no longer cares about the individual’s holistic wellbeing. So the Church is practically left alone to do that work. The family is the only allied that the church could have today but it has been weakened and arranged against powerful enemies such as the media and the government, and even the social environment is hostile to family lives. Thank God the Church is standing up tall and strong in the preaching and promotion of values but she needs to work harder.  We need to invent new means of forming people’s consciences. We need to form new means of confronting the agents of non-values that are among us. We need to form new means of colonizing the media so that people can hear the voice of the Church. That is going to take a lot of effort. It is going to mean putting our money where our mouth is. It is also going to mean a review of the formation of our agents of evangelization to match the needs of today.  

    NiCE: From Gravissimum Educationis no 5 we understand that the family is the first school of social virtue. Do you think the family still remains the best place for communicating social and religious values today?

    Bishop: As long as children are still not being produced on top of trees, the family will remain the first environment where the child learns to appreciate humanity. The family is the first humanizing organization. The Church has the privilege of being the interpreter of revelation but the family is the cradle where all that has to be prepared. In fact after the church has taught any individual it still needs the family to put a stamp on it by the witness of the parents through their direction and encouragement. The fact that the Old Testament began by God establishing the family of Adam and Eve and the New Testament by establishing the Holy Family is more than enough reason for us not to change our view on the fact that the family remains the ideal and privilege place for the formation of the human being.

    NiCE: From your lived pastoral experience as a bishop and as an expert in communication, by what means do you think the family can be helped to fulfil its task of communicating values today.

    Bishop: By every means. However, many of the means have been seized by agents and organizations that no longer care about the family. Extremely powerful and extremely wealthy people and organizations in the world are arrainged against the family so that the family can lose its control of the coming generation. They realize that once the family forms people’s consciences, certain things such as the arbitrary killing of human beings in the name of abortion or freedom and the permission to arbitrary divorce become repulsive to them. So they try to attack the family right from its roots.

    The United Nations many years ago established the age of choice at 18 but in the Unesco Calendar for this year, it is written that children should have the right to chose and to freely think. Some of these organizations have convinced African government especially, because they are struggling financially, to allow the teaching in the school curriculums what they call comprehensive sexuality education. It sounds good but indeed what it promotes apart from abortion and free contraception is lesbianism and gay culture. In this kind of environment the Church has to work much harder. Priests, sisters and other agents of evangelization have to be better formed, more aware and more committed to the monumental job of saving the family.

    NiCE: We believe your recent visits to the poor in Benin Republic and the internally displaced persons in Maiduguri gave you a firsthand experience of human sufferings in diverse form. In what way can the media be in solidarity with such people?

    Bishop: I must say that there is a segment of the media that is trying its best. But the media in Nigeria is really in captivity.  It is in captivity for economic reasons; it is in captivity because it has become a one directional media with focus on political issues and with little or no attention on the issues affecting the poor and downtrodden. The level of human miseries in the camps in Maiduguri is indescribable and yet these people had a lot of hope, a lot of warmth in welcoming and a lot of appreciation. In the Republic of Benin, we met people who didn’t have much but were extremely happy, extremely faithful and extremely Christian.  Perhaps, when people have less they believe more, it shouldn’t be but that seems to be the trend.

    During my interview with a number of journalist, assembled by some Catholic media practitioners who were with us on that visit, I did mentioned this point to them: that in the final analysis the measure of the value of the media will be how much it has tried to bring the attention of the public to those who cannot speak for themselves. They did agree and some of them are trying but there are many influential people who will do everything to keep the stories out of the public eye. Sometimes, even government officials want to keep these stories low and simply write a few snippets about what government has being doing.

    So there is a lot that the media could do but again this depends on the basic formation of consciences because the cameras cant by themselves decide what to record; It depends on the man who is behind the camera, nor can the pen decide what to write, it depends on the one who is holding the pen. If we have conscientious journalist who know that even if there are risk they ought to do what is right, they will be able to bring the attention of the general public to this poor underprivileged people.  Many times, many people in the general public want to help but they do not know how. We need the media to bridge the gap.

    NiCE: My Lord, what final words do you have for our esteem readers?

    Bishop: I thank you for conducting this kind of interview and for the choice of the topic as well. I am sure that it will educate people beyond the confines of the Catholic Church. My final word to the readers is that this kind of interview, published, should be shared with others. Anyone among our readers, who is able to do something to help somebody, should do so gladly because such effort will not go unrewarded. I ask God to bless all of you for your efforts to enlighten his people. Thank you.

    NiCE: Thank you very much my Lord.

  • The Power of African Catholic Nuns Needs to Be Unleashed

    Global Sisters Report (GSR) || By Eucharia Madueke || 16 January 2017

    power of nuns in africa to be unleashedI recently returned from Nigeria after an exciting five days of an advocacy workshop and training for sisters there. During this workshop, 86 Nigerian sisters from 27 religious communities did what they have not done before: express their dissatisfaction in public. They spoke truth to power, bringing the needs of the people they serve to those who have the power to create change.

    The workshop was focused on the structures of injustice in Nigeria that sustain poverty and suffering; the culture of waste in governance; violence against women and children; and poor implementation of gender-protective laws and budgeting. Training also included Catholic social teachings and engaging government at local, state and federal levels, and the use of social media in advocacy. The workshop was organized by the Africa Faith and Justice Network and funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Fund for Sisters and the Base Communities of Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. (The Fund for Sisters was established by — but operates independently of — the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, which funds Global Sisters Report.)

    The workshop was held in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, Nov. 22-27. One day, Nov. 24, was set aside to directly engage the government about issues of importance to the sisters.

    It was planned that the sisters would meet and discuss their various concerns with Nigeria's senate president, the deputy senate president (who is a Catholic), the speaker of the House and the police inspector general in their various offices. While in Nigeria preparing for this conference, I made many visits to schedule and confirm times for these meetings, and while I was very well-received in these offices, no one could confirm the appointment for the visits.

    Suspicious that we might not get the confirmation to get into the National Assembly where the lawmakers' offices are located, I made an alternative plan to hold a public action outside nearby. A proverb of the Igbo people of southeastern Nigeria told me that our message would reach lawmakers: "Elu nwelu nti nwee anya, ani nwele nti nwee anya," which means, "Heaven has ears and eyes and earth has ears and eyes." We rented a bullhorn (a public address system).

    A day before the scheduled visit, I received an email from the senate president's office saying that the senator was indisposed and unable to welcome us. I received nothing from the other officials. That night, through one of the sisters' contacts, I approached the federal director of police about sisters visiting his office. Fortunately, he gladly accepted our request.

    When I then announced the public action at the entrance of the National Assembly to the sisters, I witnessed how fear and division can stifle the pursuit of common good.

    Most of the sisters openly expressed their unwillingness to appear in public to communicate their message without express permission of the bishops and the leadership of their communities. Some requested we cancel the visit until the lawmakers were willing to grant us audience in their offices; others expressed fear of what the bishops and their superior generals or provincials might say or do to them after seeing the protest in the media. Still others requested that we first write to the bishops and leaders of their congregations and ask to engage in public action. A few others expressed their boldness to go, asking those unwilling to stay behind.

    The sisters' agitation created a moment of teaching. While I spoke to the sisters about our Christian duty and civic responsibility, which go beyond waiting for permission to act on behalf of justice, Fr. Aniedi Okure, executive director of Africa Faith and Justice Network, explained why the sisters did not need the permission of the bishops to engage in social action. Sacred Heart of Jesus Sr. Florence Nwaonuma, ex-president of the Nigeria Conference of Women Religious, spoke up in affirmation of what Okure and I said.

    At the end, I told the sisters that a letter with details of the workshop, including scheduled visits and possible public action, was sent to all their mother generals and provincials two weeks before the conference. The same was also sent to the cardinal of Abuja. Since we did not get negative comment from any of these, I told them, it then meant that they approved our activities.

    Coincidentally, the president of the Nigerian Bishops' Conference was visiting the conference center that evening. When he learned about our gathering and the pending activity next day, he jokingly asked why he was not told earlier, so that he could be prepared to bail the sisters out of jail. After that, he asked that we go with his blessing.

    At last, the sisters were convinced and were ready to make a big leap the next day. Some sisters shared that friends and family had warned them about police manhandling of protesters at the National Assembly premises, but this did not deter them.

    The next morning after Mass and breakfast, the sisters ignored these warnings and speculations and went to the National Assembly and the Police Headquarters. Two hired buses, each seating about 40 sisters dressed in their various religious habits, were stopped from entering the National Assembly gate by the police for not having a signed permit from the offices they intended to visit. A few of us had gone ahead of the buses and gained entry, but we went back to talk to the police about blocking the buses. In our engagement, the police accused us of not following the process. Nonetheless, they agreed with us that there was no clear process for the permit.

    While we engaged the police, the sisters organized themselves in a strategic position beside the gate, singing and praying. The police allowed us 15 minutes to deliver our message at the gate; we took an hour. As we began praying for Nigeria in distress, and singing in solidarity with our suffering brothers and sisters, some of the police – instead of harassing us as was feared – showed interest in our messages. So also did passersby, who hailed the sisters, shouting their thanks.

    Some, including police, took pictures of the sisters and of posters bearing our messages. Others joined us in saying the prayer for Nigeria in distress. One of the policewomen came to me to thank us for our action and to ask that we come back next week, promising to ensure proper authorization to see the lawmakers. We couldn't do that because our conference would be over by then, but I asked her whether she would be our ally next time. This she graciously accepted.

    At Police Headquarters, the sisters were well-received after the staff got over their surprise at the number of sisters who came. The director apologized for the long wait before we were finally allowed into the tightly secured premises, attributing the delay to ensuring there were enough seats for everyone.

    We had a good dialogue with the director of police and his staff, including the director of the Gender Unit and the Anti-Human-Trafficking Unit. At the end of the meeting, the director said that the police force needs to take the issues of violence against women and children more seriously. He thanked the sisters for their courage in visiting his office. He asked the sisters to work with police by educating their constituents to report cases of violence and abuse. He gave the sisters a series of phone numbers for various police units and asked the sisters to pray for the safety of police officers, who are killed on a daily basis. Their deaths go unpublished.

    Afterward, the sisters were indeed tired, but happy, and satisfied about being history-makers. Looking at the sisters standing under the very hot and humid sun of Abuja, I saw their unflinching determination to deliver their messages and their courage to stand, neither ruffled nor intimidated by the police. The great power of African Catholic nuns became so evident to me, the power that needs to be unleashed and nurtured through education in social justice.

    [Eucharia Madueke is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur in the Nigerian Province with expertise in social analysis, grassroots mobilization and organization. She coordinates the African Women Project of the African Faith and Justice Network.]

    Source: Global Sisters Report… 

  • As Elections Approach in Somalia, Bishop Sees Signs of Hope

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Nancy McNally || 17 January 2017

    somalia bishop hopeful toward elections 2017As presidential elections approach in Somalia, the bishop who serves as apostolic administrator sees signs of hope, but he says changes are needed.

    Since 1991, the presence of the Catholic Church in Somalia, already small, largely disappeared across the country as parts of Somalia came under the control of a more fundamentalist Islamic authority while other large sections of the country were taken over by al-Shabab, an Islamist militant group.

    Bishop Giorgio Bertin, the apostolic administrator of Mogadishu and president of Caritas Somalia, has worked largely below the radar from outside of the country, first in Nairobi and later from Djibouti, where the diocesan offices were eventually relocated.

    Despite the years of turmoil and upheaval, he has always remained hopeful. He said one symbol of that hope is the recent rebuilding and re-consecration of the parish church in Hargeisa, Somalia's second-largest city. The project was supported by the U.S. bishops' Catholic Relief Services.

    What is and is not surprising, depending on how one looks at it, is that the church serves between 10-15 faithful.

    "There might be one or two more," Bishop Bertin said, "but they might be afraid to come to the church."

    "The threat of Islamic extremism is of course always there, but the situation is now relatively safe," he said in early January.

    Bishop Bertin said the 10-15 people who form the small church community are foreigners, working regularly in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland for the United Nations or other development and humanitarian agencies that have offices in Hargeisa.

    "Why have a church for just 15 people?" Bishop Bertin asked. "First, the priest is there for those people. But second, and more importantly, he serves the others too. And for those people, they see and experience the church in its essence: in its presence and in its service, including through the work of its Caritas organizations."

    Through this presence, including through Caritas, Bishop Bertin said the aim is to re-awaken those values that are God-given and that all humanity has, irrespective of faith: the value of work, respect toward people of different faiths, and unconditional love toward others and the poorest of the poor.

    "We can bring food, we can bring medicine, we can bring blankets -- these are basic necessities and of course, because people might need them," Bishop Bertin said. "But we also have to bring those values that one day will mean it's no longer necessary to bring food aid or medicine, because people will have learned how to live, share and work together."

    He also noted that in areas like Hargeisa, where people have so little and there are so few resources to fuel conflict, there is relative peace compared with the rich agricultural lands around the Lower Shabelle and Juba rivers, which have been largely hijacked by al-Shabab militants in southern Somalia.

    In Hargeisa, now with a parish priest and a small Caritas office, Caritas Somalia is working a programs such as repairing local schools and a hospital, food assistance and support for children from among the most marginalized minority clans. Caritas also has projects in Mogadishu.

    Bishop Bertin said he remains optimistic for the Jan. 22 elections, which have been rescheduled several times. He said, however, that one of the keys to Somalia's future peace will be the need for foreign interests and the vested interests inside of Somalia to take a step back and allow Somalis to move forward in their own interest and for their own welfare.

    He recounted how, in 1995, when internationals were being evacuated from the ever-deteriorating Somalia, a humanitarian worker who was leaving Mogadishu, like hundreds of others, pulled him aside and asked the bishop to pray for him.

    "Father, please pray for me that I'll be able to find a job as great as this job in Somalia has been," the man asked Bishop Bertin at one of the last Masses he celebrated in Somalia, around Christmas of that year.

    Bishop Bertin said if Somalia remains the way it is, not only would some nongovernmental organizations profit, but so would various Somali clan mafias and international economic interests, such as the security and the arms industry. Those who are currently in power seek to keep that power, he said, so an opening to the outside world is the last thing they would want.

    On a recent trip to the United Nations, Bishop Bertin told to a roundtable group that when it comes to Somalia, the outside world tends to view the country through one of two lenses. It's either a security issue, or an emergency.

    "I say we need to bring about the rebirth of state institutions," Bishop Bertin said. "This must be our main work as the international community because the state was destroyed and, clearly without a state, there will always be a need for the military and for emergency response."

    "The international community needs to make a more serious commitment to Somalia for Somalis," he said. "It's a shared responsibility. Because normally all the external parties push their own agenda, saying it's for the Somali people but really it isn't." The result is that different Somali groups then align with whichever foreign interest best suits their particular clan, and it continues to just not work, he said.

    "I am of the opinion that 80 percent of the population is being held hostage by all these different interests," he added.

  • Help South Sudan Despite “too much bureaucracy,” SCBC President Appeals to International Community: Interview Part 2

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 19 January 2017

    bishop hiiboro to restructure scbc 2017The new President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kusala of the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan, has called on the international community to come to the aid of the citizens of his country despite “too much bureaucracy.”

    He made the appeal in an interview with CANAA on Monday, January 16. Making reference to countries that have accepted to host those who have fled the conflict in South Sudan, Bishop Barani said, “we know there is too much bureaucracy, but let them help our country; let them help us as they did help us to get the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement), let them help us to get these problems solved.”

    He extended the appeal to the wide international community members saying, “Let them not wait to come and count how many people have died, no!”

    Below is the full text of the 2nd part of interview with Bishop Barani. Part 1 interview is available here.

    CANAA: The conflict in South Sudan has gone on for a long time now, putting the world’s newest nation in the news for the wrong reason. What is the situation now?

    Bishop Barani: I would call the situation now as conflict at standstill, where we have not resolved the problems of the country. They (the problems) are there before us; people are looking at them and looking at ways of making their ways through them, but the problems are still there. We still have armed men in the bush. And they are known gunmen. These armed men are the ones controlling the country. The safety of the people to be free to move, to do things is not there. So, with these arms in the hands of those who are holding them, they are holding the country hostage, making it difficult for the country to do what it should do, and people who want to do the right thing, it is difficult for them; anyone who wants to come into the country to join hands with us is afraid to come in. It is in a way covering the (entire) country to make it almost unable to work, because economically, we are in a very big fix. There is not enough money to run services (including) hospitals, schools, and other services; humanitarian (assistance) is a big issue. There are a lot of people now who have no food, like where I come from, a lot of people who have left their own homes because of this conflict and in the refugee camps you still hear bad stories. And there is huge mistrust that is among people, divisions, hatred, and a breakdown of law and order. So, this situation is complex.

    CANAA: In the face of this complex situation of conflict, which you are describing, especially the protracted nature it seems to be taking, where would you locate the role of the Church in finding a lasting solution?

    Bishop Barani: For me as a Churchman, I see within this (that) our role is till viable. We are there with the people, we stay with the people, we pray with the people, and we still have hope that in spite of all this, if people want, they can be converted to believe in God and in the fact that the country of South Sudan is ours, and it has been given to us by God and it is we to build it, it is we to serve it, it is we provide the necessary security, then this will happen. And we are praying for this miracle that we get converted to believe that the country of South Sudan is ours, given to us by God, and we are children of God, and we must live together. So, this could help us to go beyond ethnicity, people dividing along the lines of their tribes, their regions, and it is not going to take us anywhere.

    That is why as a Church we have a program. We have decided to work, to gather all the Churches in the country through our Council and now we are going to push this through our Conference (of Catholic Bishops) on this whole issue of (an) open forum. The president (of the Republic of South Sudan) recently talked about national dialogue. This is what we have been talking about: (an) open forum where people should tell their stories, people should tell their stories and be safe at the end of it; so that when I tell my story, then I don’t meet somebody going to hunt (after) me on why did I say that? This open forum will allow people to bring their grievances within themselves, and there must be listening ears that will receive this information; and then the law to protect and be able to find a remedy for this.

    The second thing is advocacy. We need to keep on talking about the reality and the situation happening within the area, selling the stories among ourselves, our neighboring countries, which are in the region to be able to listen and to be able to come to our aid, and to the international community. And this has to continue as much as possible to reach to everyone who can help us.

    The third thing is reconciliation. The process of reconciliation is not a quick thing. We have to go slowly. It need instruments (of reconciliation) to be there because reconciliation never comes if people are still scared, afraid, and have not been able to tell their stories. So, reconciliation must be there, and a duty counting on all of us: from the Church and to whoever we must get to talk to person to person, community to community, village to village, county to county, state to state, so that we get rid of all those problems, and if we acknowledge them, then eventually healing will be coming. And healing will follow that process that takes us long time and the result of peace, and then people will be able to enjoy their country (of South Sudan). So, this is where we are going.

    We insist that South Sudan, I’m telling you, has the highest number of Church goers. The paradox is that all these people going to the Church but then you find majority of whom still go back to kill each other, to fight, and you ask yourself: why do these people go to Church? So, we are praying for this miracle that we get converted truly to God and by that conversion we can be able to forgive, and be able to stay with one another.

    CANAA: Indeed, through your message of hope for the miracle of true conversion to God, you are showing a spirit of optimism for a better future for the people of South Sudan. What message do you have for the citizens of the African continent as a Church leader in South Sudan?

    Bishop Barani: My message is: As the Holy Father says, violence can never solve the problems that we have; the guns would never do that. It is our country, it is our place, people have got to dialogue; people have got to talk to each other; and people have got to listen to each other. And that is the only way we can be able to solve our problems.

    The other thing is that those who are actually in power, who can make things change, have got to be serious, that they are carrying and implementing a program that can save life and protect life. It is funny in Africa where someone is killed (and) no one is taking action; no one loses power or his position because human beings have been lost or have been killed. In some countries, (human life) is a value; that I put my hand to defend the constitution and the life of the people of my country. And if anybody is lost, if somebody is taken (away), then the whole country is in need.

    (For instance), I am here today in Nairobi. If anything happens now that Bishop Eduardo (who was) in Nairobi is lost, we don’t know where he is, do you think my country will be in panic? They may not. It’s just, oh what happened to the bishop, finished; the story will end up there. But if I were a British or any country in Europe, the whole country will be looking for this one single human being. So, my appeal is that let us value life in Africa. In our constitution, it should be enshrined and we have to protect whoever is there as a human being, he needs to be protected.

    Finally, I would like to appeal to neighboring countries. We thank Kenya, we thank Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan, for the support they give to all these people who are running there for refuge. But, we also need their support to heal the wounds in South Sudan. We need their effort to make sure that right things are done in South Sudan. If they are happy to receive refugees, then let them be onlookers to the problems in South Sudan. But I think my appeal should be, we know there is too much bureaucracy, but let them help our country; let them help us as they did help us to get the CPA (Comprehensive Peace Agreement), let them help us to get these problems solved. The communities in Africa, the neighboring countries, let them have an impact on our system, the government in South Sudan and all the structures.

    Then the international community, let them not wait to come and count how many people have died, no! I think prevention is better than cure. I would appeal, let the people of South Sudan feel that they have individuals who are there to support them.

    And I finally ask all the Christians, all our Catholics to continue to pray for us. Please, pray, and pray for us. I think that will be the best gift because we know God is going to give us the peace we need. And when (we have) a peaceful South Sudan, it will be a peaceful Kenya, a peaceful Uganda, a peaceful Tanzania, Ethiopia, Sudan, and all our neighboring countries. Thank you and God bless you.

  • Africa's First Catholic TV Network Launched on DStv Platform

    Vatican Radio || By Fr. Paul Samasumo || 19 January 2017

    lumen christi tv on dstv 2017Prince Robert-Joseph Soji Olagunju, of Nigeria, has announced Tuesday the launch of a Catholic television station, ‘Lumen Christi TV,’ on Africa’s DStv platform. 

    In a statement made available to Vatican Radio, Olagunju, the founder and Chairperson of Lumen Christi TV said the televisions station first started its broadcasts to a Nigerian audience in 2014. This week, Lumen Christi TV was allocated channel 350 on the DStv platform. 

    DStv (Digital Satellite Television) is owned by the South African company, MultiChoice. Among other media interests, MultiChoice provides a relatively modern and popular digital Satellite TV service in Africa. It has various television bouquets available to customers. DStv is said to have 8 million subscribers in Africa.

    The Lagos-based Lumen Christi TV was officially launched in 2014 by the Archbishop of Lagos, Alfred Martins in the presence of other Bishops and the Catholic faithful.

    In his statement this week, Olagunju said, “Lumen Christi TV was established by an African for African Catholics, broadcasting the practice of Catholicism by Africans from the perspectives of their age-long, rich socio-cultural heritage.” He added, “We started in Lekki, Lagos on 13 May 2014. We broadcast pure Catholic content 24 hours daily.” 

    Catholic viewers in Africa can expect the Daily Mass, Angelus, Holy Rosary recitation, homilies, reflections and Catholic teachings meant to deepen the knowledge of the Catholic faithful. Other programmes will be on the Catechism of the Church, documentaries and the coverage of major Church events.

    Presenting Lumen Christi TV to the Bishops of Nigeria in 2014, Olagunju told Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, the President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, that he felt inspired to present to the Catholic Church of Africa, a channel that would compliment the work of the Church. He also said he wanted to give hope to those who had lost their Catholic faith.

    “Lumen Christi (TV) is a Satellite television station I conceived as a direct answer to that soul inspiring Catholic hymn that says – ‘How can I repay the Lord for his goodness to me?’... I am humbled beyond doubt, that one cannot really repay God in totality for his numerous blessings over the years, simply because these blessings and favours are immeasurable and of course unquantifiable,” Olagunju said.

    Olagunju said he was concerned that the Church in Africa, with millions of the lay faithful across the continent, did not have direct means, such as a television station, for her work of evangelization.

    Nigerian media this week quoted the Managing Director of MultiChoice Nigeria, John Ugbe saying that the introduction of Lumen Christi TV on the DStv platform was in line with the company’s strategy to provide a diversified range of content that would appeal to its different subscribers.

    “We are making great content more accessible with the launch of Lumen Christi, and we believe it will enrich the lives of our subscribers especially those of the Catholic faith,” he said.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Pope Francis Receives the President of Republic of Guinea

    Vatican Radio || 16 January 2017

    pope receives guinea president 2017Pope Francis on Monday received in audience Prof. Alpha Condé, President of the Republic of Guinea.

    The leader of the West African nation also met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and with the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Richard Gallagher.

    A Vatican press released described the colloquiums as cordial and said they highlighted the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Republic of Guinea.

    It said they focused on questions of common interest such as integral human development, care of the environment, the fight against poverty and social injustice and the development of adequate policies in regards to the phenomenon of migration.

    The important role and the contribution of Catholic institutions that operate in the country, particularly in fields of education, healthcare and the promotion of inter-religious dialogue were also discussed and highlighted.  

    The Republic of Guinea’s concrete commitment to work for peace in the West African region was an also object of attention.

    Prof. Alpha Condé has been President of the Republic of Guinea since December 2010 after having spent decades in opposition to a succession of regimes.

    When he took office he became the first freely elected president in the country's history, and then he was reelected in 2015 with almost 58% of the vote.

    Source: Vatican Radio…

  • Absence of Sense of Mission a Great Challenge to Church in Nigeria, Archbishop Says

    Catholic News Service of Nigeria (CNSN) || 13 January 2017

    archbishop of kaduna on sense of mission 2017The Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna Ecclesiastical Province, Most Rev Mathew Man’Oso Ndagoso has identified lack of proper sense of mission, lack of serious missionary commitment and missionary creativity among priests and religious as the greatest challenge facing the Nigerian church today  

    The Archbishop made this observation in his homily at the Centenary Ground of Shendam Diocese during the celebration of the Episcopal ordination and installation  Mass of Most Reverend Philip Davou Dung as the Second Catholic Bishop of the diocese of Shendam. 

    “In my considered opinion shaped by over 30 years of experience in a priestly ministry in this part of the world, one of the serious deficiencies I have observed among us priests and religious is a lack of proper sense of mission, a lack of serious missionary commitment and a lack of missionary creativity. And this lack is often exhibited by the absence of proper pastoral planning and non-implementation of such plans where they exist;” he said. 

    According to him, the virus that has infected many religious workers today is that of complacency, lethargy and non-challant attitude.

    He continued: “Many in our generation seem to have been infected with the deadly virus of complacency, lethargy and nonchalance. We like to bask in the euphoria of our being the first and well established Roman Catholic Church founded on Peter the Rock with no sense of urgency to proclaim the gospel. Before our very own eyes we see wolves in sheep’s clothing poaching and devouring our sheep without any serious concern except that of assuring and reassuring ourselves that when some leave, others will come in on their own because we are, one, holy, catholic and apostolic.”

    Archbishop Ndagoso reminded all that “the age of the church waiting for people to come, if ever there was such an age, has come and long gone for good. Ours is the era of the shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep and going out in search of the lost one;” He added.  

    The Archbishop gave a note of warning to the leaders in the church at all levels to avoid the temptation of feeling secure in their well-established church and the feeling of content with the huge attendance at Masses.

    He warned: “As one of the established churches in our country we should and must learn some serious lessons from the two earthshaking events of last year, namely, the ‘Brexit’ referendum in the United Kingdom and the Donald Trump victory in the USA general elections.

    These two victories have sent, even if dangerous, clear signals of general discontent and displeasure rightly or wrongly, with the establishment to which we all know that we belong as a church.”

    The Archbishop added: “We must therefore avoid the temptation of feeling secure in our well established church and rest content with our huge attendance at Masses. You can be sure that the establishments in London and Washington did not see it coming because of the false sense of security …”

    Cautioning Catholic faithful to be wary of the activities of people who masquerade  themselves ‘as men of God’ but are going about wreaking havoc on many innocent souls in the name of Christianity; the Archbishop declared: “I am sure that there is no one here who needs telling that in our country today, there are too many people masquerading around as ‘men of God’ causing confusion all over the place and in some cases wreaking havoc.”

    “Unfortunately, many of our people who are genuinely seeking the face of God are led to believe that these are truly ‘men of God’ only to be fed with ‘concocted’ brand of religion which claim to be Christianity;” he concluded.

    Source: Catholic News Service of Nigeria… 

  • How is the Church Responding to South Sudan's War?

    The Tablet || By John Ashworth || 12 January 2017

    church responding to south sudan war 2017Juba, the capital of South Sudan, December 2016: It is hot and dusty. Half the shops are closed, inflation is skyrocketing, the economy is in meltdown. The town is calm, but the tension is palpable. People are hungry. Many have fled to the bush, or to neighbouring countries, or are still sheltering in camps under the dubious protection of the United Nations. The outbreak of violence last July is still fresh in everyone’s minds.

    Outside the capital, roads are unsafe due to ambushes. Skirmishing between government and rebel forces continues in many parts of the country. “Unknown gunmen” has become the euphemism for armed men, often in uniform, who appear to be above the law and who kill, rape and loot with impunity.

    Just before Christmas, President Salva Kiir Mayardit announced a national dialogue, but already it appears to have become politicised, with many opposition groups rejecting it. There was no midnight Mass. The Archbishop of Juba, Paulino Lukudu Loro, instead appealed for restraint and the avoidance of killing or stealing as people did their best to celebrate.

    In December 2013, less than three years after a joyous celebration of independence following a liberation struggle lasting 50 years, violence broke out again in South Sudan. What began as a power struggle between two of the new state’s leaders, President Salva Kiir and his then Vice President Dr Riek Machar, and their factions, rapidly took on a chilling ethnic dimension.

    Systematic rape became a routine weapon of war. The new conflict was driven by the baggage of the past. A lifetime of violent conflict had left a legacy of trauma, corruption, tribalism, nepotism, authoritarianism and militarism. Issues such as reconciliation, developing a constitution owned by the people, creating a national identity, the rule of law, transition from an armed liberation movement to a multi-party democracy, integration of the various armed forces into a national army, and developing basic services such as health and education, were neglected.

    Neither the government nor the rebels are unified entities; both are a hotchpotch of different movements, factions, militias, parties, tribes and other vested interests whose nominal leaders constantly have to make compromises to balance competing interests. The situation becomes
    ever more polarised, fragmented, unstable. The curse of oil, which made up more than 90 per cent of national revenue, gave the government little incentive to develop a well-rounded economy; when oil prices dropped, what little economy there was broke down. The lion’s share of government funding is spent on the military, with very little servicing the needs of the people.

    And yet … hope remains. People look to the Church, as they have done so often before. “The Church” in South Sudan is ecumenical, with all the main denominations working together through the South Sudan Council of Churches (SSCC), which has a Presbyterian moderator as chair and a Catholic priest as secretary-general. Church leaders recently went to Rome to meet Pope Francis, followed by a trip to London to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Pope has been invited to visit South Sudan, and the indications are that this may happen this year.

    The Church is still the only institution in South Sudan that is really trusted by the people. It cuts across ethnic, political and geographical divisions. Building on its track record in previous conflicts, the Church is currently rolling out its Action Plan for Peace, based on the three pillars of advocacy, creating neutral forums for dialogue and reconciliation.

    Advocacy will seek to change the narrative of violence and hate speech, as well as influencing regional and international power brokers. Neutral forums will create a safe space where South Sudanese stakeholders can address the root causes of their conflict and contribute to the process of dialogue. Reconciliation will build on previous Church-led initiatives to restore broken relationships and bring healing to communities. There is no “quick fix” to peace; the SSCC is telling all-comers that the process will continue for 10 to 20 years.

    There are also many small and inspiring signs of hope. Bishop Emeritus Paride Taban’s Holy Trinity Peace Village is an oasis of peace in a conflict-ridden nation. His own spirituality and the experience of living in the peace village community form the basis for personal transformation, the only real way to overcome violence and build peace. A grass-roots movement called Ana Taban (“I am tired”) is promoting non-violent action by artists and young people. Women in Juba hold a prayer rally on the first Saturday of every month, marching through the streets and concluding with prayers at one of the city’s churches.

    The Church continues to provide pastoral and spiritual care, schools, hospitals, clinics, teacher-training colleges, a Catholic university, development projects, relief for the poor, and much more, despite the problems and the dangers in the country. Unlike the UN and the NGOs, the Church does not evacuate its personnel when there is insecurity and danger; they live out a theology of incarnation by remaining with their people – and often pay the ultimate price for doing so. Many pastors lost their lives protecting people from different ethnic groups during the initial violence in December 2013. As recently as last May a missionary sister was shot dead by armed men while driving a clearly-marked ambulance after she had just transported a pregnant woman to hospital.

    The people of South Sudan are truly weary of war. Yet many of their leaders still seem to believe that violence can resolve the country’s problems. It was refreshing to hear President Salva Kiir speak recently of unity, forgiveness and dialogue, and ask the people to forgive him for any mistakes he might have committed. But the fighting continues, and for it to have any credibility, the government must now match its words with actions. All the leaders – both government and rebel – have spent virtually their entire lives at war. It is as if they have no other lens through which to view the country’s problems.

    With this in mind, the South Sudanese Church is finding itself increasingly drawn to the language of active non-violence and just peace being developed by Pax Christi International and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (now part of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, under the leadership of Cardinal Peter Turkson), following their conference in Rome last March, in which the SSCC participated.

    In its Christmas message, the SSCC quoted extensively from Pope Francis’ Message for the World Day of Peace: “Can violence achieve any goal of lasting value? Or does it merely lead to retaliation and a cycle of deadly conflicts that benefit only a few ‘warlords’?” The new UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, echoes these sentiments, saying: “No one wins these wars; everyone loses.”

    Miraculously, Christmas in Juba was peaceful, but the killing continues in other parts of South Sudan. Guterres has appealed to the whole world to “put peace first” in 2017. Pope Francis says the same: “In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming non-violent people and to building non-violent communities that care for our common home.”

    The churches of South Sudan chose two Scripture verses to head their joint Christmas message: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness, on them light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2) and “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me” (Psalm 23). The ordinary people of South Sudan take those words to heart – they have indeed walked in darkness. Yet despite all the suffering, the killing, the rapes, the violence, the trauma, ultimately the light will shine and the desire for peace of this resilient people will triumph.

    John Ashworth has worked with the Church in South Sudan and Sudan for 34 years. His book, The Voice of the Voiceless (Paulines, 2014), describes the role the Church played during the [previous] civil war.

    Source: The Tablet...

  • New Head of Church in Sudan and South Sudan Prioritizes Restructuring of Bishops’ Conference: Interview Part 1

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 16 January 2017

    bishop hiiboro to restructure scbc 2017The President of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), Bishop Barani Eduardo Hiiboro Kusala of the Catholic diocese of Tombura-Yambio in South Sudan, is in Nairobi consulting about the functioning of a national Bishops’ conference in view of restructuring his conference.

    In an interview with CANAA on Monday, January 16, the Bishop has described the nature of SCBC, which brings together two independent countries of Sudan and South Sudan. He has also spoken about the immediate plans in his new leadership role as well as the challenges he hopes to overcome to realize these plans. He went on to respond to questions about the current situation of conflict in his country of South Sudan, including the efforts the Church is making in working toward lasting peace.

    At the beginning of the interview, Bishop Eduardo said he prefers to be called Barani and explained, “Barani is a word in my language, which indicates “our father” and I think that is a respectful word for responsibility.”

    Below is the full text of the first part of the interview, which focuses on Bishop Barani’s plans to restructure SCBC. The second part of the interview will be published on Thursday, January 19, 2017.

    CANAA: You have accepted a new role in the Church of South Sudan. Kindly speak about this new responsibility that is upon you.

    Bishop Barani: Last October 2016 in our last Plenary meeting in Khartoum, the Bishops (of Sudan and South Sudan) decided to elect me as the President of the Bishops’ conference, which I accepted for sure because it seems I had no option. Despite the fact that I had told them that my diocese is big and that I have so many things to do, the Bishops said “No” and that for this time they would like me to help and, in a way, to revitalize the conference.

    CANAA: Thank you for accepting this new responsibility and congratulations. Briefly describe this conference, which brings together the Church in Sudan and the Church in South Sudan.

    Bishop Barani: (The) structure of the conference is one. We have one Episcopal Conference of Sudan and South Sudan. We are all one and we felt that it was necessary to keep one Conference simply because we have been together and that in Sudan there are only two dioceses and with two bishops – actually at the moment, we have one Archbishop, one Auxiliary Bishop, and the Cardinal (who is) the Archbishop Emeritus of Khartoum. We couldn’t leave them in that situation, so we decided to be together.

    And even in South Sudan, many of the dioceses are without Bishops, except Apostolic Administrators. We have nearly four dioceses out of seven without Bishops. That is one of the contributing factors that we have to keep the conference one, to build ourselves, to feel together, and we can lay proper foundation for whatever might happen in the future.

    It is also a unique conference. We have two Apostolic Nuncios, two Papal legates for this one single conference of two countries. We have a Nuncio for Sudan, and we have a Nuncio for South Sudan, but we all collaborate without any problem; it is almost like the trinity where there is no conflict.

    CANAA: Having accepted this new responsibility as the president of Sudan Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SCBC), what are some of your immediate plans going forward?

    Bishop Barani: First of all, my choice as the President of the Bishops’ conference is a new beginning, a historical shift. The “Sudanization” of the Church in Sudan by then that happened in 1975 was made by the Bishops who have led this country until now that it is separated into two, this one Church until this moment, the founding fathers of the conference. And at this moment, majority of whom have retired, and some have gone back to God, and very few are left. In fact, I have picked up the role from Cardinal Zubeir who was one of the founding fathers; he is the only one still active, and actually now he has retired.

    Now, this is a new generation. But with old problems. My immediate role: number one of course is that I need to inform myself about this institution, the Bishops’ conference. I need to love it; I need to accept it; I need to cherish it so that I can be able to offer my best for it.

    Number two, this is of course institution of God. It is not mine. Definitely we would need to pull spiritual strengths from God to see that we can run this institution very well. In order to do that, we definitely need a lot of prayer in order to handle the old situations that have been within the conference.

    The third thing, which I need to do which is actually number one in terms of work, is to set up the structure. With the division of the country into two, with the ongoing conflict, our conference has been like almost stagnant. The first thing is to see that the (conference) structure is viable, and is able to be effective and efficient. And to do this, that means that we need to create a possible, humble, first-thing-first, of an office: The Secretary General and a few departments that might be required for now, so that we are able to put the policies, the system, and the culture of work within this first moment. From this, I think we will lay down our first plan only for 2017 and see what we can do now until the end of 2017. It is only after that we can evaluate and be able to lay a plan for two years or three years to come.

    CANAA: Considering the critical need for the structures within the Bishops’ conference, which you have just described, how do you hope to achieve this goal of structures within the conference?

    Bishop Barani: Actually, my main reason of being in Nairobi at this time is first of all to seek the wisdom, the guidance, the expertise of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). I have come to seek their knowledge, their expertise. In fact, this morning I met the Secretary General, Father Daniel (Rono) whom I have found to be so good, so open, and I really fell in love with him in terms of his love for the Church. I have invited him to come over to South Sudan next week where we are going to have an initial meeting, a brainstorming meeting on how to start this whole thing all over again.

    It is not easy; it is not so simple; it is not a quick fix. It is going to take us some time. But during that meeting, we may put our fingers on a few important things that we must begin with. So, as I speak about structure, it means the whole thing to get the conference back on its feet surely it will need personnel. We already have the Secretary General, but we need people around him, then the (financial) resources, and space to allow this first beginning to unfold.

    CANAA: With all these plans of structuring the conference to be operational in an efficient and effective manner, what challenges do you think you will need to surmount to realize these plans?

    Bishop Barani: The first challenge is to understand how the conference is supposed to work. I have to educate myself about this. One of it also is to bring together the personnel who are supposed to work with the standing committee that we have; to be able to create the spirit of teamwork, so that we together, hand in hand hold this work at the very initial stage in the right direction. It is still challenging because we are wherever we are, and I am trying now to see how we can come together.

    The second challenge is of course that Juba is where the Secretariat is (yet) some of the resources and facilities for the conference are in Sudan and we need to bring some of the things down or get new ones. So for sure we will also have financial difficulties. For all these years we have not been raising money or having resources at our disposal where we can be able to begin the work quickly.

    The other thing is the trained personnel, people who know what to do, who will help us to get this dream realized. So, we will also embark on how to get the right people in the right place.

    The other thing is also the political challenges. It is not easy to move. Most the (Local) Ordinaries are their dioceses. To get them over to Juba is not easy; communication is a challenge. Roads are not passable in many places. You can only (travel) by air, and these (planes) are not always there, they are not reliable. So, insecurity is a huge challenge for us to pick up quickly this responsibility.

    In the second part of this interview, Bishop Barani speaks about the current situation of conflict in his country of South Sudan, the efforts the Church is making, and concludes with his personal message to the citizens of Africa. Look out for this interview on Thursday, January 19.

  • Peacebuilding Partnership helps Central Africans Heal after Conflict

    Catholic News Service (CNS) || By Zack Baddorf || 11 January 2017

    peacebuilding partnerships in car bring healingBlindfolds secured tightly, more than a dozen men and women are led by their partners around leafy plants and trees in the compound of an international charity.

    The occasional stumble sends nervous laughter around the group of Christians and Muslims who have been paired up at random for the experiment, an exercise in building trust between communities torn apart by conflict.

    At the end of the session, those guiding the "blind" along cracked concrete and pebble paths spoke of having to be patient, responsible and compassionate.

    "We all have a need for each other," Nicaise Gounoumoundjou, a community worker, told the group.

    For a long time, Hada Katidja Siba, one of the participants, was skeptical.

    Siba saw her house burned to the ground in 2013 when mainly Muslim Seleka rebels toppled the government in the majority Christian nation, sparking a backlash from mostly Christian militias known as Anti-Balaka.

    Thousands of people were killed in the ensuing ethnic cleansing and the country's de facto partition between the Muslim northeast and Christian southwest.

    For Siba, a Muslim, seeing her home disappear in flames caused her to anger "very easily" and to distrust and fear Christians.

    "I would see a Christian coming toward me and I would just think: 'What is he coming to do to me? Is he coming to kill me or to do something to me?'" she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Despite successful polls in 2016 -- regarded as essential to ending the violence -- and a new, elected government, reconciliation has barely been addressed in the country of 4.6 million save for grass-roots efforts like the December workshop.

    Florence Ntakarutimana, a trauma healing specialist from Burundi, who led the workshop, said most Central Africans have experienced some form of depression and shame from the crisis.

    Many suffer from insomnia, loss of appetite and bad dreams. Others react to trauma with anger and aggression.

    Ntakarutimana said some people lose interest in activities they previously cared about, like going to their church or mosque. "They say: 'Where was God when we were suffering?'"

    She has conducted dozens of healing workshops across Central African Republic, starting each one with a song led by a participant, followed by prayers led by a minister or imam.

    The Central Africans are given a chance to share stories of witnessing killings, experiencing sexual assault or losing their family, friends and homes. Many tears are shed.

    "When someone is not healed, he's not ready for social cohesion. He's not ready for reconciliation. He's not ready for livelihood activities," Ntakarutimana said.

    The Rev. Senjajbazia Nicolas Aime Simpliec, a 46-year-old Protestant, said he became "very nervous" after a close friend was killed in 2014.

    "I started making bad decisions," he said. "Even though I was a pastor, I wanted to act. I was ready for revenge."

    But he said the workshop has taught him that vengeance is not the solution, a lesson he plans to share with his community and congregation.

    "It's about forgiving and living with what happened and going beyond it, so I can reconcile even with those who have killed my colleague," Rev. Simpliec told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    The workshop involves the participants sharing some characteristics they appreciate in each other, switching seamlessly between French and the local language, Sangho.

    It ends with discussions on how they could uproot mistrust in their communities. On an easel, the participants wrote that they planned to provide "sincere apologies," "love," "trust," and "dialogue" in order to "search for common ground."

    These efforts are part of the CAR Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. In partnership with Catholic Relief Services, World Vision, Islamic Relief and Palo Alto University, the five-year project aims to promote reconciliation by supporting local religious leaders, improving opportunities to make a living and providing psychosocial trauma healing.

    "Religious actors are the bedrock of society in countries where institutions are fragile," said Andreas Hipple of Minneapolis-based GHR Foundation, which co-funded the project.

    "The religious leaders cannot just guide people in their faith, but also help them deal with the challenges of life," Hipple said.

    Ntakarutimana said the workshop is just the start.

    "They will continue to have those scars, but it's not really bleeding like a fresh wound," she added.

    After meeting and partnering with Christian victims of the conflict, Siba said she had renewed hope in the future.

    "Even though the situation we have now is difficult, with God's mercy, we can rebuild our country and reconcile with each other."

  • One of the Largest Collections of Ethiopian Religious Texts is now in DC

    Catholic News Agency (CNA) || By Adelaide Mena || 10 January 2017

    ethiopia religious collections in dcWith a recent gift of more than 600 handmade leather manuscripts, the Catholic University of America is now home to one of the most important collections of Ethiopian religious manuscripts in the United States.

    The collection includes Christian, Islamic, and “magic” texts. It is the largest collection of Ethiopian Islamic manuscripts outside of Ethiopia.

    Dr. Aaron M. Butts, a Professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literature at Catholic University, said in a statement that the manuscript collection “provides unparalleled primary sources for the study of Eastern Christianity” and reaffirms the school’s standing as one of the leading places to study Near Eastern Christian language, literature, and history.

    The manuscripts are handmade of goat, sheep, or calf hides, and most of them date to the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries.

    In total, the collection includes 125 Christian manuscripts, such as psalters, liturgical books, and hagiographies. Within the 215 Islamic manuscripts of the collection are Qurans and commentaries on the Quran.

    The collection also contains more than 350 so-called “magic” scrolls – Christian prayer talismans. Each talisman, Butts told CNA, is handwritten by a “debtera” – a lay person or cleric in the Ethiopian Church, and contains the name of the person for whom it is written.

    The scrolls are worn around the neck, and are created to help the wearer with a certain kind of ailment, such as headaches. Many of these talismans are dedicated to women’s ailments – such as childbirth or painful menstruation – and Butts said it is clear that some of these “magic” scrolls have been passed down through the generations from mother to daughter.

    Butts also noted that at various times in Ethiopian history, use of these prayers has been discouraged within the Ethiopian Church. Because of this status, as well as the domestic, personal nature of their use, he continued, not much research has been done on these devotional tools.

    Many of the manuscripts in the collection, including the “magic” scrolls, contain intricate illuminations and other decorations on the scrolls.

    According to Butts, the collection’s age is fairly typical for Ethiopian manuscripts. He explained that while many Western and Middle Eastern manuscripts can date back centuries and even more than a millennium, Ethiopian scripts tend to be much more recent, in part because Ethiopians still use the manuscripts in daily life for prayer and reading, and also because the alternating rainy and dry climate destroys the hides.

    The manuscripts will be stored at CUA’s Institute of Christian Oriental Research (ICOR), a research auxiliary of the Semitics department. The donation expands the already-impressive collection of more than 50,000 books and journals as well as antiquities, photographs, and archival materials documenting early Christianity in the Middle East ICOR houses.

    The new collection, valued at more than $1 million, was donated to Catholic University by Chicago collectors Gerald and Barbara Weiner. Butts told CUA that the couple wanted the Ethiopian people to use the scrolls for prayer, along with making the manuscripts available for study by students and researchers.

    The Washington, D.C. area is home to one of the largest Ethiopian populations outside of Ethiopia, and there are several Ethiopian Orthodox and Ethiopian Catholic churches, along with cultural centers, in the area. CUA officials are currently working with the community to coordinate the scrolls’ use.

    Source: Catholic News Agency…

  • Church in Kenya Mourns Bishop Colin, Conference of Bishops Calls for Dialogue over Election Law

    CANAA || By Father Don Bosco Onyalla, Nairobi || 12 January 2017

    bishop colin rip 2017Just two days after the announcement of the death of Bishop Colin Davies, Bishop emeritus of Ngong Diocese in Kenya, the Bishops in Kenya are appealing for dialogue after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed into law the Election Amendment Act of 2016 despite spirited objection from the opposition and civil society.

    A member of the Mill Hill Missionaries, Bishop Colin died Sunday, January 8 in England.

    “It is with sadness that we inform you of the death in Freshfield at 19.45 hrs on Sunday, 8th January 2017, aged 92, of bishop Colin Davies mhm after a long illness,” reads a message posted on a Mill Hill Missionaries website.

    Ordained to the priesthood in July 1952, the late Colin was appointed to head the Apostolic Prefecture of Ngong in 1964 and later ordained the first Bishop of Ngong diocese in February 1977 where he served till his retirement.

    “In 2002 Colin celebrated his Golden Jubilee as a priest and Silver Jubilee as a Bishop and during the year his resignation as Bishop was finally accepted,” part of his obituary reads.

    In an interview with Waumini Communications, the local ordinary of Ngong diocese, Bishop John Obala Owaa described the late Bishop Davies as “a great pastor who served God and his people with a lot of dedication and simplicity.”

    “He spent half of his years in Ngong diocese and therefore initiated many projects and ordained most of the priests that are serving in the diocese,” Bishop Obala has been quoted as saying, adding that his diocese continues to build on the foundations that the late Bishop Colin laid.

    The late Bishop, also an accomplished pilot, authored two books by Paulines Publications: “Mission to the Maasai” and “From Pilot to Pastoral Bishop.”

    Recalling his experience with the late Bishop Colin, the founder of the Social Communications department of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), Father Joseph Healey has acknowledged Colin’s hospitality and inspirational thoughts.

    “In the 1970s when I needed a weekend break from the busy activities of the AMECEA Bishops’ Office in Nairobi, Kenya, Bishop Davies would invite me to his Ngong Residence,” Father Healey, a member of the Maryknoll Society has recalled, adding, “I would walk the Ngong Hills and then have English high tea and a pleasant conversation with the bishop.”

    “In his final years in Nairobi, Kenya we had long conversations on the future of the Catholic Church,” Father Healey has recollected in a message he availed to CANAA Monday, January 9.

    “I was inspired by Bishop Davies’ prophetic vision of the option of married priests in the Roman Rite for ‘pressing pastoral reasons,’” Father Healey continued in his message and added, “He wrote a challenging article: ‘A Call to Action on Eucharistic Hunger – Now! Making the Eucharist Available to All Baptized People as the Bread of Eternal Life.’”

    Bishop Obala of Ngong diocese is organizing a requiem mass for the late Bishop Colin at St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral of Ngong diocese and has invited the clergy, religious, and the lay faithful to the Friday, January 20 event.

    The requiem mass in Kenya’s Ngong diocese will coincide with Bishop Colin’s burial ceremony at a private cemetery in London (England), which will be preceded by the reception of his body at Herbert House, with Evening Prayer on Thursday, January 19.

    While the Church in Kenya mourns the late Bishop Colin, the Catholic bishops in Kenya are making a “passionate appeal” for dialogue in the face of tension over the signing into law the Election Amendment Act of 2016.

    In a press statement dated January 10, which was signed by the Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Philip Anyolo, the Bishops appealed to “all stakeholders to do everything possible to ensure a peaceful and credible forthcoming 2017 elections.”

    Addressing the opposition leaders who have been calling for public demonstrations, the Bishops stated, “We sincerely believe that demonstrations and mass action should give way to this process of dialogue.

    In the press statement, the Bishops offer themselves “to mediate and facilitate this process of dialogue in conjunction with other religious leaders and other people of good will.”

  • More African Countries Sign Agreements with the Holy See

    Vatican Radio || By Father Paul Samasumo || 09 January 2017

    more african countries sign mou with holy seePope Francis Monday revealed that the number of ambassadors accredited to the Holy See has grown.

    In his annual address to members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, it also emerged that in the course of last year, the number of African countries that signed or ratified bilateral Agreements with the Holy See had increased.

    The establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, a month ago, brings to 182 countries and entities that have diplomatic relations with the Holy See in the world.

    In his annual address to the diplomats, Pope Francis named the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Benin as African countries that signed or ratified agreements aimed at recognising the Catholic Church’s juridical status, last year.

    Speaking to Pope Francis on behalf of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, the Dean, His Excellency Armindo Fernandes do Espírito Santo Vieira, of Angola, thanked the Holy Father for his concrete steps in reducing suffering in the word as evidenced during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

    The ambassador thanked the Pope for his leadership in encouraging peace; his stand on migration, social change and the climate.

    “Despite many efforts, we feel sad because certain tragedies (in the world) highlight our inability to prevent them. The attacks in Germany, Bangladesh, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Egypt, the United States, France, Jordan, Nigeria, Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey and many other countries; The suffering of the civilian population in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen reveal that the road to peace is still a long way off,” Ambassador Armindo said.

    Source: Vatican Radio… 


Audio - Various

Video: Kamba Peace Museum - Machakos


African Continent


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