By Linda Bordoni
The Catholic Church in Kenya has repeatedly pointed to corruption as one of the biggest ills affecting the country, and during his October 2015 visit to the East African nation, Pope Francis urged young people not to succumb to the allure of corruption saying it “is a path to death as it cripples development and leads to poverty and suffering.”
Today, amid the global Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s Catholic bishops are keeping their attention focussed on the deep rooted scourge and are urging the government to ensure that Covid-19 emergency funds are directed to fighting the pandemic and returning the country to normalcy.
In a statement released on Sunday by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), the prelates note that their appeal comes in the wake of reports on mismanagement of funds meant to contain the pandemic.
“As a Church, we appreciate several measures that have been taken by the Government to contain the spreading of the pandemic in our country. However, we are concerned about reports that some funds meant for the pandemic containment have been misused,” reads the statement.
Increase of gender-based violence
Bishop John Oballa, Chairman of Catholic Justice and Peace commission, who read the statement after a nationally televised Mass, also noted that as the country intensifies its war on the pandemic, there has been an increase in gender-based violence in society, as well as worsening conditions for the most vulnerable, especially children, women and persons living with disabilities.
“As your shepherds, we exhort parents to take extra care of their children, including guarding them against harmful internet content,” he said, and he called on married couples to cultivate “love, understanding, respect and patience for each other, especially during this time of the pandemic.”
Support for faith-based health-care facilities
As part of the commitment by religious leaders in fighting Covid-19, Bishop Oballa appealed to the government to support faith-based health-care facilities, most of which serve in remote areas and informal settlements. He asked they be included in the distribution of Personal Protective Equipment and that their healthcare workers be allowed to access Government Covid-19 treatment and isolation facilities.
Finally, Bishop Oballa invited Kenyans to join in prayers and solidarity with those on pandemic frontlines, especially medics who are leading the war on coronavirus.
The KCCB has consistently been committed to the fight against corruption. An initiative last October saw it launch a six-month anti-corruption campaign that addresses responsible and sustainable farming, youth and development, natural resource management, leadership and accountability and the sanctity of life and human dignity.
In the 76-page campaign document, it is made clear that corruption, which falls under leadership and accountability, is actually a cross-cutting issue that touches on all the themes.
According to the latest statistics Kenya has 535 officially reported coronavirus cases, 24 deaths caused by the virus and 182 recovered patients.