Mercy in Action
Bishop Cornelius Arap Korir of Eldoret, preaching in Ngong, called on Kenyans to forget their past experiences and to forgive and love one another as the country moves toward the general election in 2017. The bishop is chairman of the national Catholic justice and peace commission.
Launching the bishops’ national Lenten campaign Feb. 7, Korir said Kenyans “need to shun corruption, negative ethnicity and radicalization that tears the country apart and embrace oneness, tolerance of one another and creation of job opportunities for the youth.”
He added that “in the season of Lent, the Catholic Church calls her faithful to be in fellowship and solidarity with their brothers and sisters who are less fortunate and support the church through prayers, self-denial and almsgiving.”
Before the service in the city’s cathedral, local and regional church leaders joined government officials in a walk through Ngong. Later, the food and clothing were donated to households in Ngong’s Mathare slum.
The bishops’ Lenten campaign asks Kenyans to pray and reflect on responsible citizenry, care for the environment, family values, insecurity and corruption.
In the preface to the bishops’ Lenten guide, Korir said, “Kenya is a blessed country, but when we do not take responsibility of our affairs and when we remove God from our dealings, we lose a lot.”
The bishop said Kenya had security challenges, “such as radicalization of the youth, abuse of drugs and alcohol among the youth, cattle rustling, rape, mob justice and general lawlessness. We may not have many ways of coping with insecurity, but if we cooperate with government, we shall reduce insecurity.”
I cannot imagine the horror of living as a gay person in Kenya or in any of those countries where attitudes appear to be far, far from a genuine desire to ‘love one’s neighbour as oneself.’ However, attitudes take a long time to change. “The Church moves in centuries,” doesn’t it. Looking at those remarks from Cardinal Korir about showing solidarity with the poor and tolerance to the less fortunate it is hard not to be touched with cynicism. Yet, that is unfair too. How do we, as westerners, understand the minds of those who have not yet come to any real understanding of the reality and the necessity, and the gift too, of difference? These are the times when we feel so absolutely helpless but mindful of the need to trust that the good Lord will find a way forward and of the need to keep continually educating ourselves and others. It wasn’t so very long ago when most of us discovered that beam in our own eye. My goodness, when you think of it, we talk about “tolerance” towards people of same sex persuasion. What arrogance, in a way! To tolerate means to put up with. It shouldn’t be an issue. Poverty, homelessness,the lack of care for the most vulnerable, these are the real issues. Easy for me to say, I suppose, as I am not a gay person living in Kenya. Following the Nazarene isn’t easy, is it?
Attitudes don’t take long to change Mary. Do you have children? An idea can be put into action quite quickly and it is so easily to maneuver among their news-feed today. The Church may move in centuries but I’m willing to bet this is going to change too. Yes Kenya shares entrepreneurship with the United States but not its thinking on social equality. Really? They believe in God’s plan for procreating – one man, one woman (easy to do the math on that one) but do they also recognize God’s plan to control the population, perhaps, or is that much too organic for people to realize.