Updated: September 16, 2021 08:12 AM GMT
Mombasa archbishop Martin Kivuva during a past media briefing. (Photo: Daily Nation)
Catholic bishops in Kenya have banned politicians from addressing congregations in churches over concerns that the leaders were abusing the purity of places of worship.
The bishops issued the ban after it became evident that political leaders were turning the churches into campaign fields, as the political realignments occur ahead of next August's general election.
"We wish to firmly state again that our places of worship and liturgy are sacred and (do) not serve as political arenas. The church is above politics," Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement delivered at a news conference in Nairobi Sept. 15. "We as clergy, and especially the priests, are to ensure that places are not used by leaders to further their political agenda."
In the past, some priests have allowed the politicians to greet the church congregations, but the politicians have used the moment to attack their opponents or attempted to sway the congregants to their side. Some of the politicians have been accused of hate speech in churches.
According to the bishops, any politician who attends Mass must do so like any worshipper.
"No special consideration should be made for him or her to propagate his or her political agenda, nor address the congregation in our places of worship," said Archbishop Kivuva.
On Sept. 12, Anglican Archbishop Jackson Ole Sapit of Kenya issued a similar ban, saying the politicians were interfering with the sacredness of the places of worship.
At the news conference, the Catholic bishops also addressed other concerns, including, the politicians' defiance of a government ban on rallies due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a dispute between the president and his deputy, and politically instigated violence.
"We wish to sound a loud warning against utterances and attitudes of possible drums of war all over the country. If unchecked, such utterances and attitudes may spark off election violence during the forthcoming electioneering period," said the bishops.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.