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Unholy wind blowing in Nairobi as priests accuse Njue of ruling with an iron fist

BUSINESS
By | Mar 29th 2009 | 3 min read
By | March 29th 2009
BUSINESS

By Martin Mutua

A row has erupted between Nairobi Archbishop Cardinal John Njue and priests who are now up in arms against his leadership style.

The priests, who spoke to The Standard on Sunday on condition of anonymity, are accusing Njue of being "dictatorial, arrogant and proud".

The priests said they were angered by a move by the cardinal to limit their monthly allowances and control offerings from their parishes.

"There is a serious crisis in the Catholic Church and I think the cardinal has come to rule us with an iron fist and doesn’t want to listen to anyone," a priest in one of the parishes in Nairobi, said.

Nairobi Archbishop Cardinal John Njue

The sources said the cardinal recently met with priests in the entire Archdiocese, which comprises 12 deaneries. On Wednesday he was at Thika Deanery where the priests are said to have rejected his decrees.

The priests say Njue has come up with a decree that priests be drawing a flat rate monthly allowance of Sh10,000, which has never happened since the inception of the Archdiocese. The decree also extends to missionaries in the Archdiocese.

Insatiable Appetite

He has also decreed that the yearly offerings and contributions, which parishes submit to his office, be raised from five to 30 per cent.

"What is wrong with our cardinal? Why has he all of a sudden developed this insatiable appetite for money?" asked one of the priests.

The priests said the sudden appetite for money was bound to weaken the Catholic Church and scare away Christians.

The priests said when the cardinal took over he sanctioned that the parking lot at the Holy Family Basilica, which is used by worshippers, be paid for.

"It is the most outrageous thing to have happened since the establishment of the Catholic Church. We have never seen or heard that there is another parish in Kenya which charges its members parking fee," added the priest.

The clergyman further said the faithful contributed towards putting up a public toilet yet ended up being charged for using the facility.

"Are we going to come to church with money for offering or are we going to be carrying parking and toilet fees when we come to the Holy Family Basilica?" asked Joan Waweru, a faithful who has worshipped here for years.

Several people interviewed by The Sunday Standard were disappointed with the manner church affairs are run.

Christians and the priest said for the first time they are having a bishop and a cardinal who operates contrary to their expectations.

Sources within the Church said immediately Njue took over from Archbishop Ndingi Mwana a’Nzeki he fired two drivers employed by the church. He drives himself.

By virtue of his office, Cardinal Njue — as the Head of the Catholic Church in Kenya — is supposed to have a driver because of his status.

The 27 bishops countrywide, though junior to Njue, have drivers the dioceses employ. The late Cardinal Otunga also had a driver.

"We as priests of this Archdiocese have told him this, but he is a person who does not listen to anybody. You might become his enemy when you attempt to correct him. We have left him to do what he pleases since he believes he knows everything," adds another priest.

The move has fuelled suspicion among the faithful with some taking the matter personally and questioning their shepherd’s behavior.

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