The Catholic Church has asked its clergy and faithful not to attend services called by suspended priests who have formed a new religious order.
Bishop Martin Kivuva of Machakos diocese, from where the majority of the rebel priests come, on Sunday warned that anyone associating with the defectors risked suspension.
He said the priests, including Fr Daniel Kasomo, who has openly admitted to having a family for 20 years, were not allowed to lead Mass or offer sacraments to Catholics.
“By continuing to sin, with their suspension in place, the said priests have officially excommunicated themselves from the mainstream church,” Bishop Kivuva said.
He, however, said the defiant priests were welcome if they repent for breaking the church’s rules.
“Sinning faithful are always welcomed back to the fold, if they repent their sins and accept to abide by the church’s laid-down rules and regulations,” he said.
Defending the law of celibacy, Bishop Kivuva said it was not God’s command, but a church’s rule that was arrived at after a lot of consideration.
“The Catholic Church has a systematic way of training its priests; the journey to priesthood takes a minimum of seven years. Before one is ordained, one is made a deacon. It is here that one takes the first vow of celibacy. One is never forced to do so,” he said.
He said the church wants its priests to remain celibate and not marry so as to dedicate their time and energy to serving the Lord.
“Celibacy is modelled in the image of Christ, it is true that early Popes and priests of the church were married, but this changed with time. The idea to bring in celibacy was to ensure that priests dedicate their time and energy to leading the flock,” he said.
Bishop Kivuva said it was unfortunate that the breakaway priests were abandoning the church that had made them what they were today.
“Some of the shocking things they are saying, I am hearing them for the first time through the press. When a priest chooses to live a lie, whom do you blame? The rule of celibacy?”
He said many priests were living true to their vows of celibacy. He likened priests who criticise the church to a passenger on a journey who is a nuisance.
“When he or she is thrown out, he or she boards the next bus and then starts criticising those on the bus that threw him out, calling them names,” he said.