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Kenyan court reinstates defrocked Anglican priests

Church removed the men last year over accusations of homosexual acts

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, center, and Archbishop of Kenya Eliud Wabukala, above right, leave a service at the All Saints Cathedral in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2013. Associated Press/Photo by Ben Curtis

Kenyan court reinstates defrocked Anglican priests

The Employment and Relations Court in the Kenyan town of Nyeri has ordered the Anglican Church of Kenya to reinstate three priests it suspended last year over allegations of homosexual acts. The order also includes more than $21,000 in compensation for each man.

The verdict comes amid a growing divide within the global Anglican Church on its stand on homosexuality.

In September, the Mt. Kenya West diocese suspended five priests and withdrew their licenses following accusations that they had sexual relations with adult men for about 20 years. Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, Rev. James Maina Maigua, and Rev. Paul Mwangi, sued the church trustees for not adhering to the provisions of the church constitution in their trial. The priests told the court church politics played into the accusations.

Justice Byram Ongaya ruled in favor of the priests, saying the priests’ dismissal was unfair and carried out without actual evidence of homosexual acts.

“The suspension amounted to degradation and the church did not give them any right of legal representation during the church tribunal hearing,” Ongaya said. “The three priests must have looked for a place to hide because of the kind of injury they have suffered.”

The monetary compensation includes the priests’ salaries from when the church suspended them last year. The court ordered the Mt Kenya West Diocese to redeploy the priests by Oct. 1, and pay the money by Dec. 1.

“The court is subjecting the church trustees into a debt,” church chancellor Nderitu Wachira said after the ruling. “We will analyze the judgment and appeal.”

The Anglican Church of Kenya and other African Anglican branches have taken a stand for the orthodox view of sexuality, amid the increasing acceptance of homosexuality among some churches in the West. Earlier this month, Church of England Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain announced he is gay.

“From outside, we are being pressed by the West, and even parts of the Anglican Communion, into treating homosexuality as a human right,” Kenya’s Archbishop Eliud Wabukala said earlier in a statement on marriage. “But this is to cheapen rights so that they become a demand that we tolerate individual preferences that are destructive of our moral fabric.”

The Global Anglican Future Conference (GAFCON), a movement of Anglicans seeking to preserve the Anglican doctrine, has said it opposes Church of England guidelines that permit clergy to engage in same-sex relationships.

Onize Ohikere

Onize is WORLD’s Africa reporter. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and earned a journalism degree from Minnesota State University–Moorhead. Onize resides in Abuja, Nigeria.



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