Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Catholic church to sue schools over saints' names

By BENJAMIN MUINDI and CISA

Kenya Catholics have threatened to take legal action against individuals who name their schools after the church’s saints.

The practice, which according to the church had become rampant, was spoiling the reputation of its learning institutions in the country.

“They are creating confusion among the public and they do not uphold the standards the church lives up to,” Bishop Maurice Crowley, the chairman of the Catholic Commission for Education, said on Tuesday.

The church would take legal measures against such schools, said the bishop, adding that some unscrupulous individuals were putting up schools and hiring “ghost sisters” to run them.

“Parents need to know where they are enrolling their children... they run the risk of putting them through a totally different setting from that offered by the church,” the bishop said.

The Catholic Church runs 800 private schools and has also sponsored more than 4,000 public primary and secondary schools throughout the country. There are about 26,000 primary and secondary schools in the country.

Bishop Crowley said Catholic schools offered certain values that were associated with the saints named after them, and using such names in vain by others was wrong.

But a principal of one such school said he saw nothing wrong with naming an institution after a saint, whether sanctioned by the church or not.

Mr Kingoo Mbithi of St Monicah Girls in Machakos said using the name did not actually mean the school was church-sponsored, nor was it a commercial bait for parents.

Attend mass

“We have never claimed that the school is a Catholic school. We just use the name and the parents are aware,” he said.

At St Valentine’s Girls in Machakos, the principal, a Mr Muthoka, said the school was indirectly involved in the activities of the church. “Our students attend the Mass and we have had some sisters teaching in the school,” he said.

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