Vatican has lauded Kenya Defense Forces (KDF) catholic chaplains offering their missions in war and conflict zones throughout Africa. Thousands of KDF troops have left their families, loved ones and have braved into the battle fronts, selflessly and with valor fighting the enemy in hope of realizing peace. In war-torn Somalia, these Catholic Priests have been instrumental in military operations, offering the much-needed guidance through counseling and faith, thus pivotal in counter-terrorism efforts.
The discussion of Fr Benjamin Maswili, Apostolic Administrator of the Military Ordinariate in Kenya, discussion with Fr Paul Samasumo, the Head of Vatican News’ English for Africa Program, he highlights the roles of chaplains and priests in conflict and war zones. The Military Ordinariate enlightens on how 23 catholic priests have been a pillar of counter-terrorism efforts in Somalia by helping soldiers overcome psychological trauma through counseling programs and religious backing.
Soldiers have suffered serious consequences, mental or physical traumas while in the line of duty, Fr Maswili is among the 23 priests offering counseling and support; deeds that significantly comforts the soldiers to march on. Fr Maswili shift to military chaplaincy came courtesy of the late Cardinal Otunga who asked him join the military mission. He describe military chaplaincy as a job that requires dedication and strength in order to impact the same to soldiers on their missions.
Chaplain’s notable missions,
1. Counseling of both, soldiers and families
Before being dispatched on mission, troops are counselled together. Back home, their families are also counselled in order to psychologically prepare them for eventualities and subsequently help them understand the nature of their work in battle zones. The chaplains and priest acts act the only trusted communication device between the soldiers and their families. At times when they suffer attacks, lose comrades, their morale is affected and priests are there offer them counsel and do if need be do the same to their families.
2. The 23 Chaplains attends Soldiers of all religions
The 23 chaplains and around 40 catechists assigned to the Kenyan Defense Forces attend to all soldiers and troops from all the religion. Firstly, being Catholics and serving all soldiers regardless of their religious affiliation shows how they respect Islam, Somali culture and religion.
3. The Priests and troops are brothers’ keepers
In the battle zones, priests and troops are brother’s keepers. The priests many times has to work alongside the soldiers, move with them on the field. The priests must there to counsel them and to offer them sacraments: Holy Communion, Conversion, and provide support as needed. Regardless they are on the front-line or not, they feel protected by the soldiers. As non-combatants the Chaplains and priests automatically are protected by the troops that accompany them.