Prelate: Church in Africa Has a Great Future

Stresses Ecclesial Commitment to Development

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ROME, NOV. 8, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The Church in Africa has a great future given the «hunger for God» and the ecclesial commitment to existing development programs, says the bishop of Kitui, Kenya.

Bishop Anthony Muheria stated this while taking part in meetings in Rome organized by the Harambee Africa International Onlus.

The prelate affirmed that the Church in Kenya not only carries out its mission of evangelization, preaching and catechizing, but is committed to improve human conditions.

«We have more than 120 primary schools and 80 secondary schools,» he reported, «and we seek to promote the integral formation of young people, who represent the real future.»
 
The bishop noted that in Europe the practice of religion «is very diminished,» with statistics that reflect «an interior deprivation» of the soul, but in Africa, he said, God is «at the center.»
 
This lack of religious practice is due above all to the lack of «connection» with God, he said. In the African continent there are «in less than one hundred years, many young people in the faith,» but Europeans «know less about God than they did twenty years ago.»

Bishop Muheria observed, nonetheless, that Africa is Christian today above all thanks to the faith and the «great saints» of Europe.

Altogether Christian
 
He affirmed that to believe in God is not only to declare oneself Christian, but «to be altogether Christian, which implies putting into practice charity and solidarity and having right conduct.»
 
Likewise, the prelate said, to practice Catholicism «is not only to go to Mass, but to take part in it,» and to consider religion an «important aspect of life.»
 
Given that Kenya’s population is mainly young, the bishop said, many children are seen at the Masses. He stressed the need «to form well and to support» the youth to remove them from the «dangers» that surround them.
 
Bishop Muheria underlined the importance of priests in this work, noting that the clergy in his diocese at times travel 45 miles on motorbike in the same day to celebrate Mass in several locations. If they do not arrive on time, the Catholics gather and pray together.
 
Despite the difficulties that are faced in this area of Kenya, which is «arid with little rain and scarce agricultural production,» he said, the «spiritual fertility» is «immense» and «the generosity of the people, their tenacity and their will to learn» are striking.
 
Among the main obstacles for the population, the prelate stressed in particular the lack of water, which means that the inhabitants must travel some seven miles to find water and often it is «not that clean.»
 
He listed other challenges such as immoral views, taking form in «some important parts of the country’s new constitution.»
 
The bishop spoke briefly about Madrid’s 2011 World Youth Day, saying that he would like to attend, though he admitted that the cost of participating «goes beyond the family resources of the people of Kitui.»
 
He noted: «It will cost more than €1,600 ($2,225), which is the quota of one year for 16 students. We’ll see if we succeed in sending someone, but it’s difficult, as the diocese has no resources.»

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