The place of the church in conflict resolution: a Case study of the catholic church in Kibera division, Kenya
Omunda, Achieng J
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This study focused on the place of the church in conflict resolution: a case study of the Catholic Church in Kibera Division, Kenya. The study was guided by two objectives. The first objective was to evaluate the participation of the Catholic Church in mediation and reconciliation in Kibera during and after the 2007/2008 post- election violence. The second objective was to investigate the challenges faced by the Catholic Church in post-conflict resolution in Kibera during and after 2007/2008 post-election violence. The study hypothesized that the Catholic Church played an important role in the mediation and reconciliation effort in Kibera during and after the postelection violence. It also hypothesized that the Catholic Church faced some challenges in the post-conflict resolution during and after the 2007/2008 post-election violence. In order to achieve the objectives, data was collected from both the secondary and primary sources. Questionnaires were developed and administered through interviews and focus group discussions to get primary data. Secondary data was acquired by conducting reviews on related and archival secondary sources, to support the discussions of this study. Random, purposive and snowballing sampling designs were used to identify the respondents. The research employed Johan Galtung's transcend theory to examine the objectives. The literature review noted that most studies on the involvement of faith-based organizations focused on the leadership and clergy participation as far as post-conflict resolution is concerned. The study noted that during and after conflict, the church adopted a multi-faced conflict resolution approach. The church counselled victims, conducted training, printed peace leaflets and delivered sermons to reconcile the community. It also conducted social programmes and homilies, besides offering humanitarian assistance to unite the divided society. The study further noted that lack of security, insufficient resources and mistrust of the church leaders hampered reconciliation. Poor coordination and lack of inclusive approaches by the government also poised challenges to the Parish in its quest for reconciliation. The study noted that lack of the administration of justice and compensations hampered the reconciliation process. Some Christians, too, failed to live to the values of forgiveness especially where victims suffer irreversible loss, received no justice and were not compensated. It notes that personal acknowledgement and remorse is crucial in fostering lasting reconciliation. iv The study concludes that though the church used its established system to spread the message of forgiveness, it was essentially not so instrumental in fostering grass root reconciliation since most citizens focused on the national reconciliation. Besides, due to mistrust of the Church national leadership, most of the locals failed to take the teachings of the church seriously. Hence the Catholic Church needs to strengthen, expand and integrate its strategies towards conflict resolution. The study further recommends that the Church and all stakeholders need to adopt systemized, sustainable and practical approaches to ensure behaviour change. Additionally, the legal processes should be comprehensively implemented to ensure that all victims get justice. The research recognizes that solving the root causes of the conflict is indeed pivotal to finding a lasting peace.