A row has erupted in the Catholic diocese of Bungoma after priests disagreed over sharing of senior positions.
The dispute is pitting priests from Bungoma and Busia counties. The diocese brings together 38 Catholic parishes from the two counties.
Priests from Bungoma head only 11 of the parishes. There are claims priests from Bungoma have been sidelined in appointments and major decisions yet the county has most of the parishes.
The diocese is being overseen by the bishop of Kakamega, Joseph Obanyi, following the transfer of Bishop Norman King’oo.
Priests from Bungoma, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation, yesterday claimed they are being discriminated against, even when it comes to seeking further studies.
Currently, they claimed, there are 14 priests from Busia who are furthering their studies. Only three from Bungoma have been allowed to go back to school.
Those who complete their studies are given priority for promotion and lead strategic departments and parishes.
“The training opportunities are skewed in favour of those from Busia because most of those holding leadership positions in the diocese are from the county. They are the same ones who approve the requests for promotion and for further studies,” said a priest who did not wish to be named.
And now a section of the faithful in the diocese have joined the fray. They are pushing for splitting of the diocese into Busia and Bungoma.
A group of church elders, who included former Bumula MP Bifwoli Wakoli, said they have taken up the matter with Bishop Obanyi to end the row.
In a memorandum to the bishop, the leaders expressed their disappointment with how the leadership positions are shared.
“We can’t continue like this. We have suffered in silence for too long. We need to have these issues addressed urgently so we can move forward,” said Wakoli.
They accused the Vicar General John Ogola of being behind the imbalance in the postings. The Vicar General is the senior most priest.
Some church members from Bungoma, it is alleged, have threatened to close down the churches or stop attending mass until the matter is addressed.
They are also angered by a move by priests from Busia to propose two of their colleagues to be considered for promotion to positions of bishop.
Fr Ogola, when reached for comment, said all inquiries should be directed to the Office of the Bishop where the decisions are made.
“I have nothing to say. I am not authorised to comment on these matters. Kindly get in touch with Bishop Obanyi who is our acting bishop,” he said.