Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - With "shock and surprise" the Bishops of Kenya say they have received the news that the government has formulated new rules that, "if implemented, will have direct and negative impact on our evangelization mission".
This is what is reported in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides after proposals for a new regulation of religious confessions were published ("Religious Societies Rules 2015").
The Catholic Church denies in particular that the new rules are likely to jeopardize "the clear line of distinction between the State and religion" established by the Constitution of Kenya. The same constitution is also "explicitly clear on the freedom of worship". According to the Bishops, the government, with the proposed legislation, intend to interfere in worship: "How does the government purport to regulate how Kenyans worship? Is this not a clear violation of the constitution? ".
The Bishops underline that "broad sections of the law are unrealistic and utopian. For example, parts of the law require different faiths to keep an updated register of all members". "We wish to remind the state that the work of winning souls for Christ is an ongoing task, one that happens every second, every minute, every day and night. Every second, millions of souls are won for Christ. To demand that all faiths keep records of people won for Christ every minute and those who have become inactive is therefore logistically unrealistic and untenable".
Another controversial issue concerns the "power to invade Churches to conduct impromptu audit. This is, to say the least, a license for the government to violate constitutionally guaranteed freedom of worship".
Acknowledging that the new regulation was necessary for cases of abuse by self-proclaimed religious leaders, the Bishops recall that the Catholic Church is governed by the Code of Canon Law, and therefore has "procedures to punish leaders who make mistakes".
President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked the Attorney General to review the new law on "religious societies" in consultation with all stakeholders. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/01/2016)