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Kenyan bishops accuse government of impeding church's mission

by Lydia Davies
Screenshot 2024-04-17 131745.png - Banner image
BISHOP MAURICE MUHATIA MAKUMBA // Screenshot from Capuchin Tv Youtube channel

Catholic bishops in Kenya have raised significant concerns over what they perceive as "governmental encroachment" on church-operated schools and hospitals.

Speaking at a press conference in Nairobi, Archbishop Maurice Muhatia Makumba, the newly elected president of the Kenyan bishops' conference, emphasised the issues at hand, including the rising cost of missionary work permits and substantial debts incurred by hospitals through the National Health Insurance Fund.

Archbishop Makumba stated: "We are concerned about the deliberate intent to reduce and undermine the role of the Catholic Church, and indeed all faiths as safeguards of morality in society. We especially decry this subversion in the fields of education and health."

Highlighting a proposed Basic Education Bill 2024, Archbishop Makumba pointed out that it disrupts the longstanding agreement between church and state regarding the management of educational institutions founded by the church. He said: "Our history is very clear, that many of these institutions were established by our missionaries," he noted, adding, "This has given our country great leaders and forged the moral fabric of our Kenyan society."

Addressing an increase in work permit fees for missionaries, Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Nyeri criticised, "This is absolutely unethical and shows a lack of gratitude to people dedicating their lives to the good of society." He advocated for a zero-rated work permit for religious personnel and volunteers.

On healthcare concerns, Archbishop Muheria highlighted the crippling effect of government debt on church-run hospitals: "As of now, this has accrued to over two billion Kenya shillings (£16m)...many are now unable to procure medicines and pay salaries."

Further addressing societal issues such as living costs and an ongoing doctors' strike, Archbishop Muheria remarked: "The life of a human person should never be used as a bargaining currency...Every life is worth more than any financial or employment gain." He urged for a compromise to prevent loss of lives.

The bishops' collective stance signals deep unease with current legislative proposals and governmental actions affecting church-affiliated institutions and broader societal welfare in Kenya.

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