Kenyan Catholics Publicly Support Peace Efforts

Amid Fears of Destabilization Following Attacks in Mombasa

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MOMBASA, Kenya, DEC. 5, 2002 ( In the wake of last week’s terrorist attacks in Mombasa, Kenya’s Catholics have decisively manifested their support for peace.

One of the attacks killed 16 people in a hotel frequented by Israelis; the other attack, the firing of a missile at a passenger plane, failed.

In response to the tragedy, Catholics attended a concelebrated Mass on Monday, in which many of Kenya’s priests participated.

Father Alfonso Poppi, member of the Priestly Fraternity of the Missionaries of St. Charles Borromeo, who has been working in Kenya since 1997, told the Fides agency that, «to sorrow and solidarity with the victims, is added the fear that these events might have repercussions on Kenya’s internal life.»

Father Poppi explained that «the country is going through a delicate time at present, because presidential elections are scheduled for December. Up until now, there had been no violent incidents, as happened in previous election campaigns, and the climate was peaceful.»

«The people expect free and peaceful elections, but these attacks, which seem to be the work of a foreign organization that has used local extremist groups, endangers the coexistence that citizens have enjoyed,» he continued.

In this context, the priest added, one may better see that «the violent actions that have altered the life of Kenyans in the last years — as, for example, the burning of a church — in reality are provocations from those who struggle for power. In fact, there are no tensions with local Islam.»

Given the Catholic Church’s efforts for peace and the development of Kenya, the Mass was a new manifestation of Christians’ public presence in the country.

«Kenyans pray a lot — following the Holy Father’s recommendations,» Father Poppi observed. «For example, John Paul II’s recent letter on the rosary had been widely circulated.»

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