Anglican bishop denies defaming his colleague

Wednesday March 18 2020
bishop

Anglican Church Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda at the High Court in Nyeri on March 19, 2018. The church was on May 18, 2018 ordered to pay Sh200,000 for disobeying orders to reinstate three priests who were suspended over allegations of engaging in homosexuality. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By JOSEPH WANGUI

Anglican Church Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Kagunda on Monday distanced himself from a tribunal that recommended suspension of three priests from pastoral duties over homosexuality.

While appearing before Lady Justice Abigail Mshila at the High Court in Nyeri, the bishop said he only communicated and implemented the findings of the tribunal.

CASE

“I appointed Canon Wilfred Nderitu Gichuki together with Humphrey Irungu and Godfrey Wanjohi as members of the tribunal. Canon Gichuki was the chair and I went by their findings,” said the bishop while testifying in a defamation case filed against him by Archdeacon John Gachau.

The tribunal found Mr Gachau guilty of the sexual offence and the bishop proceeded to revoke his licence to officiate at church services.

The bishop told the court that he never sat in the tribunal but only communicated its findings and recommendation to Mr Gachau and also to the congregation at the Church Cathedral in Nyeri town.

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He also communicated the same to the worshipers at St Andrews ACK Church, Kagongo Parish in Othaya, where Mr Gachau was ministering, through a letter.

The bishop stated that informing the worshipers was under the guidance of the two constitutions of the church named the Diocesan and the Provincial, contrary to Mr Gachau’s claim that the communication methods amounted to defamation.

“The tribunal sat on August 21, 2015 at the ACK Baden Powell Hall Mothers’ Union office. What I did was in accordance with the two constitutions of the church. Mr Gachau had taken oath of Canonic obedience,” Bishop Kagunda told the court.

He was put to task by Mr Gachau’s lawyer David Onsare, after it was found that the bishop had no powers to appoint anybody else as chairman of the tribunal.

While urging the lawyer to stop ‘pinning him’, the bishop admitted that he had no powers to appoint a chairman of the tribunal, adding that it was Vicar General of the Diocese who was supposed to chair.

“Canon Gichuki was not a Vicar General neither was he ordained. The tribunal was not well constituted,” said Lawyer Onsare.

The bishop denied defaming the archdeacon through the media.

The hearing of the case will continue on April 18 when the church member who implicated the priests to homosexuality will testify.