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Statement From Kenyan Catholic Bishops on Constitution

 

Bishops of Kenya

July 18, 2010

   
  Our dear people of God and fellow Kenyans, “the truth will set you free” (John 8: 32).We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya greet you in the name of the risen Lord.You will recall that we wrote to you on 15th April 2010 in our pastoral letter ‘STAND UP FOR LIFE’ in which we were also addressing the government to take our views and those of other Kenyans into consideration. We have also sought other avenues to engage the government without success, specifically trying to address the two major issues raised in our letter. On the 6th May 2010, the Proposed Constitution of Kenya was published by the Attorney-General without change.

We wish to express our disappointment and that of many Kenyans that our voice has not been listened to so far. Even at this late stage, we still believe that the said clauses can be removed from the Proposed Constitution of Kenya.


In our letter ‘STAND UP FOR LIFE’ we referred to the difficulty we had with article 26 paragraph 4 and our concern about articles 169, 170.


With regard to article 26 paragraph 4, we insist that the right to life is paramount and we find the clause to be contrary to natural law, human dignity and Christian teaching as specified in the teaching of the Catholic Church.


We the Catholic Bishops of Kenya have sought advice on legal and medical issues regarding the right to life, and are convinced on the basis of the advice that we continue to receive, that the constitution will result in the liberalisation of abortion laws.


Similar wordings have been used in other countries to legalise abortion, similar faulty arguments as those being used by the proponents of abortion in this country. A good constitution should safeguard very basic rights before conferring other rights. The Proposed Constitution of Kenya does not do that. A good constitution is judged by how it protects fundamental human rights. All the gains in the Proposed Constitution of Kenya are, as it were, cancelled by what it says about the most fundamental right, the right to life. A constitution that does not safeguard the sanctity of human life is not a good constitution.


Together with this there are other issues which are found in the Proposed Constitution about which we have the gravest reservations, namely, the Kadhis’ courts with their inherent inequality of citizens (art. 169 and art. 170), family life (art. 53), acceptance of international law as the law of our country (art. 2), reproductive health care (art. 43, 1a), and the definition of religious freedom (art. 32). Why is the term reproductive health care in this constitution when it is understood in international definition to mean abortion?


Regarding future amendments, we do not believe that a document that is fundamentally flawed should be passed only with a very vague hope that it will be amended later, especially when the process of amendment is more difficult after than before. To vote for the Constitution is to vote for all of it, including its good and its bad provisions. It is impossible to separate them. All people of good will who vote for the Proposed Constitution of Kenya because of some provisions that they like are also responsible of voting for all the morally problematic provisions in the Proposed Constitution of Kenya, including the liberalisation of abortion. We cannot in good conscience advise Kenyans to vote for the Proposed Constitution of Kenya with the hope of future amendments. We also cannot in good conscience leave the matter to Kenyans without giving our considered advice in moral matters so that they can form their consciences in accord with the will of God expressed to us through the moral laws that form part of our cherished Christian tradition. We state this without any fear of contradiction.


The Constitution is not a bag of potatoes for which you can remove five bad potatoes and retain the 95 that seem to be good. It is like an egg, that is delicate and has to be well preserved. And if it begins to go bad, it goes bad wholly and you cannot separate the good from the bad.


Thus, as we have already stated, we are compelled to advise the people of Kenya to vote No!


To emphasize our total objection to article 26 paragraph 4:
We will be promoting the teaching of our Church through the usual means of communication.


As we promised, we will be proclaiming a national day of prayer.


These are the issues on which we judge the Proposed Constitution of Kenya.


We urge our leaders to respect this decision and position that the entire Church has taken. We must voice our opinion, whichever it may be, with utmost respect for persons and institutions (articles 22 and 28). We are not in a political competition but rather putting clearly the position that arises from our role as religious and moral stewards of our society.


We the Catholic Church have been involved in responding to the problems and concerns of women and shall continue working for the respect of their dignity. We wish to prevent many women of this country from experiencing medical treatment by people who are not qualified. We want to prevent them from experiencing the internal pain of the loss of love.


The Church runs many health institutions in collaboration with the government. We know that the rights of many women in this country have not been respected. The Church has always been and shall always be on their side. Those trying to front abortion are the ones who do not care about the plight of women. Why would anyone wish to cause so much pain to women? Would the Church want anything bad for this country? Would the Church promote evil for this country?


Our dear Christians and dear people of good will, we find ourselves at a crossroads. We all understand the craving we all have for a new constitutional dispensation. However, we have a moral duty to pass on to our future generations a constitution that truly safeguards truth and human dignity.


We therefore urge you to make a major campaign of prayer for the defense of life and a constitution that safeguards this reality. We urge al to pray the rosary and other prayers in our Eucharistic celebrations and our small Christian communities so that God may listen to our cry and plea.


We therefore repeat our advice to the people of Kenya to reject this Proposed Constitution of Kenya.


We commend all of you to the protection of our Blessed Mother Mary; may she who treasured the mysteries of God in her womb intercede for our beloved country Kenya.


Signed:


His Eminence John Cardinal Njue;
Archbishop of Nairobi.
Apostolic Administrator of Ngong
Chairman, Kenya Episcopal Conference


1. Rt. Rev. Philip Sulumeti – KEC Vice Chairman (Kakamega)
2. Most Rev. Zacchaeus Okoth (Kisumu)
3. Most Rev. Boniface Lele (Mombasa)
4. Most Rev. Peter Kairo (Nyeri)
5. Rt. Rev. Paul Darmanin (Garissa)
- Apostolic Administrator (Malindi)
6. Rt. Rev. Cornelius K. Arap Korir (Eldoret)
7. Rt. Rev. Joseph Mairura Okemwa(Kisii)
8. Rt. Rev. Philip Anyolo (Homa Bay)
9. Rt. Rev. Alfred Rotich (Military Ordinariate )
10. Rt. Rev. Maurice Crowley (Kitale)
11. Rt. Rev. Norman King’oo Wambua (Bungoma)
12. Rt. Rev. Peter Kihara, IMC (Marsabit)
13. Rt. Rev. David Kamau Ng’ang’a- (Auxiliary Bishop Nairobi)
14. Rt. Rev. Anthony Ireri Mukobo, IMC (Isiolo Vicariate)
15. Rt. Rev. Patrick Harrington (Lodwar)
16. Rt. Rev. Virgilio Pante (Maralal )
17. Rt. Rev. Salesius Mugambi (Meru)
18. Rt. Rev. Luigi Paiaro (Nyahururu)
19. Rt. Rev. Emmanuel Okombo (Kericho)
20. Rt. Rev. Martin Kivuva Musonde (Machakos)
21. Rt. Rev. Anthony Muheria (Kitui)
22. Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina (Muranga)
23. Rt. Rev. Paul Kariuki Njiru (Embu)
24. Rt. Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba (Nakuru)
25. Rt. Rev. Dominic Kimengich – (Aux. Bishop Elect Lodwar)

   
 
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