NAKURU, Kenya, JAN. 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- The bishop of Nakuru in West Central Kenya is pleading for peace and dialogue.
Bishop Peter Kairo of Nakuru is the chairman of the Kenyan episcopal conference’s Justice and Peace Commission. His diocese suffered much of the rioting and conflict that erupted after the Dec. 27 contested presidential election.
“While I agree that both sides of the debate have issues that need to be addressed, I plead with you to stop torching people’s houses and looting their belongings, end the hostilities, and suffering subjected upon one another in a merciless way especially to women and children,” the bishop wrote in a statement released today by the Catholic Information Service for Africa. “Thousands of people are sleeping out in the cold; children are not going to school, while the sick do not have access to medical care. The onset of rains could see an outbreak of serious diseases that will lead to more deaths.
“My dear brothers and sisters, we are all children of one God. Are we going to continue killing and stealing from one another and plunge our country into further anarchy? Don’t we believe in the sanctity and sacredness of life anymore? What future are we laying for our children?”
Bishop Kairo asked politicians to negotiate. “It is only by their coming together that we can be able to reconcile Kenyans. Joining my fellow bishops in supporting the efforts of international mediators, I ask both parties to give these personalities a chance to arbitrate in the crisis.”
The 66-year-old prelate appealed “to those calling for mass action to give dialogue a chance.”
He said that recent events have shown that rallies, though claiming to be peaceful, “lead to unnecessary deaths, looting of property and major inconveniences to innocent travelers and other Kenyans. The police on their part should exercise maximum restraint and avoid using too much force or shooting to kill the protestors.”
Bishop Kairo further urged the government to resolve land issues ongoing since the 1990s: “The land policy should address the historical injustices of land and bring an end to this incessant fighting once and for all.”
“I call upon all Christians and people of good will to stand aside from the crowd and be counted as promoters of the much needed peace and healing,” the bishop appealed. “I urge our Christians not to participate in meetings where hostilities, revenge and counter attacks or anything evil is being planned.
“Such are the times when we are called to stand by Christ however hard the times or pressure. At the end of it all we will be judged whether we stood by our Christian values and teachings or we were carried away by the wind.”