The Catholic Church has warned of the emergence of an outlawed group that has been advocating for outdated cultural practices such as female circumcision.
According to the church, investigations have revealed that the group is also advocating for the reinforcing of cultural traditions such as male chauvinism and subjugation of women within the church.
Through a circular sent to the Catholic churches by Nairobi Catholic archbishop John Cardinal Njue, the church is concerned that the group calling itself Gwata Ndaĩ is coercing the faithful to join it.
Cardinal Njue said that the group, which bears the characteristics of a cult, has adversely affected individuals, family set-up, the church and the society.
The circular, which was read to the Catholic faithful in Kiambu and Nairobi on March 8, discloses that the sect has its base in Kiambu County, especially in Kiambaa in Githunguri Sub-County, Lari, Limuru, Ikinu, Githurai 44 and Mai Mahiu areas as well as Nairobi County.
The archbishop said the group has caused disintegration, conflicts, emotional torture to women and children and has led to some faithful defecting from the church to embrace the teachings of the sect.
"The group has had effects on individuals, families, church and the society. These group bears the characteristics of a cult and use of instilling fear in order to inculcate their doctrines and enforce their practices upon individuals. Numerous cases of family disintegration and conflicts and of emotional and psychological imbalances especially on women and children have been reported," Cardinal Njue said.
He urged the church to remain steadfast and to hold on to Christian values as well a positive cultural values, adding that Christians can preserve and glorify their culture without reverting to it.
"It’s time to uphold the old and seize the new. When we combine the cultural beliefs and our Christian calling and have vibrancy in our faith," the cardinal said.
He reminded the faithful to avoid the danger of syncretism – mixing faith with some cultural beliefs which are not in line with Christian teachings.
Cardinal Njue has directed the priests to re-integrate the Christians willing to come back to the church through the guidance of the Catholic liturgical rite which includes going through prayer retreats, fasting and the sacrament of reconciliation.
"For those who may have fallen prey to the teachings of these groups, I wish to welcome you back to the Church. I urge the priests who may have such cases to reintegrate those who are willing to come back to the church. This is to be done through the guidance of our liturgical rite after going through retreat (prayer and fasting) and the sacrament of reconciliation,” he said.
Cardinal Njue told the Nation by phone that they heard about the groupings last month during the Presbytery Council meeting. He then directed Fr Emmanuel Ngugi to lead a committee that came up with the report authenticating the existence of the groupings.
“I appointed a committee which has been led by Fr Emmanuel Ngugi to investigate and come up with the report about the groupings which are advocating for reinstatement of traditional ways of worship as well as reinforcement of cultural traditions and practices," he told the Nation on Sunday.