A tribunal formed by the Anglican Church of Kenya Mt Kenya West Diocese head to investigate claims of homosexuality levelled at three priests was illegal, the High Court in Nyeri has been told.
Bishop Joseph Kagunda admitted that the nine-member tribunal was not constituted according to the church provincial and diocesan constitutions since it was not chaired by a vicar-general.
The bishop told the court that he suspended Reverend Paul Warui, Archdeacon John Gachau and Rev James Maigua from church ministerial duties in November 2015 following a recommendation by the tribunal.
He defended his decision although it was later on September 30, 2016 quashed by the High Court.
While testifying in a defamation case filed by Rev Maigua, Bishop Kagunda insisted that he is the chief minister of discipline in the church diocese.
He said the suspension letter addressed to Rev Maigua, who was serving at St Philips Thunguri ACK Parish, was not read to the congregation.
“Rev Maigua appeared before the tribunal as a witness against Venerable John Gachau,” Bishop Kagunda said.
“He was adversely mentioned during the proceedings and he became an accused person. The tribunal decided to investigate him too but did not find him guilty,” he said.
The court heard that the tribunal was chaired by Lay Canon Wilfred Gichuki who is not a vicar-general.
“There was a vicar-general named Joseph Raja but he could not chair the committee because he was a witness,” the bishop said.
“Their findings were proper as per the constitution and were rightfully implemented.”
The judge was told that Rev Maigua violated the church constitution by going to court instead of challenging the suspension at the ACK head office.
“He never appealed the decision in the church,” Bishop Kagunda told the court.
He said Rev Maigua was not investigated on the gay claims due to the court case.
While being cross-examined by the priest’s lawyer David Onsare, the bishop said the priest is still a member of the clergy.
“Rev Maigua is bound to my rules and discipline. He took the oath of canonic obedience to the bishop and his successors,” he said.
The bishop was accompanied in court by his two colleagues from Thika and Murang’a dioceses.
The hearing was adjourned to July 12.