The Irish Missionary Union (IMU), representing 87 Irish missionary sending groups both lay and religious, has condemned the violence being inflicted on the peoples of Kenya and Pakistan in recent weeks and called for a renewed committment to addressing poverty and injustice as the only path to long term stability in these lands. "The slaughter of hundreds of people in Kenya must be condemned" said the President of the IMU, Sr Miriam Duggan FMSA "We have an obligation to speak out against this violence and to call on all responsible leaders to work towards rooting out the injustices and corruption that are at the root of Kenya's difficulties." The IMU abhors the assassination of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto and appeals for an end to acts of terrorism."We are deeply concerned for the welfare of the ordinary people of Pakistan during this very difficult time in their history", said Fr Brian Starken CSSp, the Spiritan Provincial in Ireland. Presently, Irish Catholic missionaries number 232 in Kenya and 61 in Pakistan. The IMU has called on world political leaders to press for early dialogue among Kenya's political leaders and to work towards rooting out the injustices and corruption that has led to this recent violence. The 33 Irish religious and lay organisations representing these missionaries, are in daily contact with their members living in conflict zones."Thankfully our members are in good spirits despite travel restrictions and the difficulties all around them" said Sr Miriam, Superior General of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters for Africa, who have a number of Irish members in the conflict zone."Local people are running short of food and we are making arrangements for our sisters to be able to purchase extra supplies for them." she added. Sr Kay Lawlor MMM, a Medical Missionary of Mary working in the Kibiri slum in Nairobi, has witnessed some of the worst of the violence and reports that people are living out in the open fields for fear of being burned out of their shacks. "The presence of the missionaries in the midst of such conflict, is a source of great hope and encouragement to the local people" said Fr John Coleman CSSp, part of the Spiritan Leadership Team in Dublin and presently on a visit to Kenya. "We are particularly concerned for our Kenyan priests, sisters, colleagues and their families. Nationals are always the most vulnerable in such situations" he added. "Ultimately this country needs peace and reconciliation based on Justice, for a people, who have endured far too much pain" said Fr. Patrick Devine SMA, Chairman of the Conference of Religious Superiors of Kenya, a native of Roscommon, who has been working in East Africa for 20 yrs. "The people need to hear a message of hope and support from the religious leaders of this country. We do realize that these points have been well spelt out in Pope Benedict's recent Encyclical, "Spes Salvi';'the only way forward for the present is a hope that is rooted in God alone" For more information see: www.imu.ie
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