Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Priests warned over child abuse

Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya Alain Paul Lebeaupin at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi on Wednesday, where he conducted Mass for ‘The Year of the Priests’. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO

Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya Alain Paul Lebeaupin at the Holy Family Basilica in Nairobi on Wednesday, where he conducted Mass for ‘The Year of the Priests’. Photo/FREDRICK ONYANGO 

By BENJAMIN MUINDI

Catholic priests who molest children will be surrendered to the police even as they are punished by the church.

This was the no-nonsense message delivered by Nairobi Archbishop John Cardinal Njue on Wednesday when he announced new rules in the face of complaints of misbehaviour by priests.

The guidelines require each diocese to draw up child protection policies against priests who sexually molest them. At a celebration of Holy Mass to end “The Year of the Priests” at Nairobi’s Holy Family Basilica, he said:

“The policies will have direct involvement and collaboration with civil authorities in criminal cases such as rape and paedophilia.”

Attract penalties

“A cleric accused of any moral impropriety of a sexual nature, especially the abuse of minors, will attract penalties as stipulated by the Church law, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state,” Cardinal Njue said.

He, however, added: “The misdeeds of a cleric should not be used as an excuse to attack the entire church.”

“As a church, we cannot tolerate any act that harms and violates the rights, the dignity and integrity of any person perpetuated by any member of the clergy,” he said.

The measures come at a time when cases of rape and child sexual abuse by the priests are rife nationally. Claims of sodomy in the US are also common.

In Kisii, a priest has been accused of defiling a schoolgirl only minutes after giving her bananas and oranges for her sick mother in hospital and praying for her.

Archbishop Njue also urged clerics unable to live the life of celibacy to leave the priesthood, “and in fairness acknowledge that it was one’s personal choice”.

The copies of the regulations were later handed to the bishops of the church. On the proposed constitution, Cardinal Njue said there was still time to amend contentious issues.

“There is time for dialogue, but not dialogue to buy time before the referendum,” he said. Cardinal Njue told the congregation that the issues of abortion, gay marriages and kadhi courts need to be sorted out.

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