This report is provided by Antonia von Alten of Aid to the Church in Need.
In the wake of the massacre of 148 Christians at a university in the Kenyan city of Garissa, Cardinal John Njue, archbishop of the capital Nairobi, called on all citizens for a spirit of unity.
That was the heart of the declaration he delivered April 8 at Nairobi’s Chiromo mortuary were the bodies of the victims had been collected. In his statement—a copy of which was obtained by international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN)—the cardinal said it is “extremely depressing that many young Kenyans have been radicalized and incited to commit acts of terror against their fellow citizens.”
He spoke in reference to media reports that five Kenyans were among the suspects arrested after the attack. “It is regrettable that some terrorists live among us and that we do not report them to the competent authorities,” the prelate said.
The cardinal proclaimed: “Religious leaders should stop stirring up hatred towards people who do not belong to their religion and faith, and they should recognize instead that everyone [of them] believes in a higher being.”
Cardinal Njue, standing by remains of the victims, called on the Kenyan government and security forces to urgently develop emergency strategies for schools and universities: “We must ask ourselves: How well prepared are we to deal with acts of terror?”
Bishop Joseph Alessandro, OFM Cap, coadjutor of the Diocese of Garissa, spoke of the great fear of local Christians and described the situation as “very tense.” However, he also told ACN that there are good relations between local Catholic priests and Muslim clerics. “On Holy Saturday the Chair of the Central Council of Muslims in Kenya came to us in a gesture of solidarity,” the bishop said. Nation-wide there are number of joint Christian-Muslim initiatives
Kenya’s population of 45 million is 85% Christian, with just 10% being Muslim. However, the eastern part of Kenya—which borders with Somalia and where Garissa is located — is virtually entirely Muslim. The region has proven to be a fertile recruiting ground for Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabaab militia, which has masterminded a number of terror attacks targeting Christians in Kenya.
Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN)