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First duty is to children

Friday May 27 2011

Fr Renato Kizito, the Catholic priest, journalist, peace activist and charity worker freed by police after a night in custody on allegations of sexually attacking his male secretary, must desist from further contact with children.

This is not to suggest that Fr Kizito is guilty of anything. He is not; as a matter of fact he is innocent in the eyes of the law as no evidence has been brought to tarnish his otherwise sparkling reputation.

However, given the serious drama around Fr Kizito, particularly in the context of global revelations of the preying on children by otherwise respected members of the religious community, it makes complete sense to be cautious and place the safety of children above the good priest’s reputation.

What is not in doubt, however, is that there is something terribly wrong at the Koinonia Centre in Dagoretti, Nairobi, and possibly in the wider Comboni Missionaries community.

In 2009, Fr Kizito was accused of sexually violating children. John Cardinal Njue, chairman of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, promised at the time that an investigation would be done and appropriate action taken if evidence of wrong doing was found.

The fact that no action appears to have been taken can only mean that no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

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For many Kenyan Christians, the church is the protector of not just their souls, but also their material welfare and human rights.

The Kenyan church must now demonstrate that it cares not just about the reputation of its priesthood but also the welfare of the children in constant touch with those priests.

Even as it and the police go about proving Fr Kizito’s innocence and the alleged conspiracy against him, its first duty is to the children.

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