The Anglican Church has failed the people of Kenya by not speaking with a “prophetic voice” in the wake of the disputed Dec 27 elections, the former Archbishop of Kenya has declared.
“We did not need Tutu to come all the way from South Africa to solve this crisis. We did not need Kofi Annan…
The Church should have been able to solve this problem.
But they are seen as partisan,” Archbishop David Gitari told the East African Standard.
Kenya’s post-election violence has led to the deaths of over 1,000 people and forced over 350,000 from their homes.
Last week the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) apologised to the nation for the partisan political divisions within the churches, which had muted its prophetic voice. “Religious leaders failed to stay on the middle path, they took sides and were unable to bring the unity needed when the crisis arose,” NCCK secretary-general Canon Peter Karanja said on Feb 13.
In an interview with the Standard, Dr Gitari recounted the church-led campaign to end one-party political rule in the 1990s. “The Church is a reconciler and a reconciler does not take sides unless he is completely sure the side he is taking is the right one,” he said.
However, we are called “the light of the world and salt of the earth. Whoever does wrong has to be challenged, whether that person is your brother or tribesman,” the retired archbishop said.
Kenya’s Anglican bishops either were “not courageous enough or have taken sides,” he charged. The church’s bishops were split down the middle along tribal lines in the current dispute and “it is wrong.”
They were “failing to be prophetic,” and had lost the public’s trust, Dr Gitari said.
Following a meeting in Limeru last week, the NCCK’s executive council released a statement acknowledging that “Church leaders have displayed partisan values in situations that called for national interest. The church has remained disunited and its voice swallowed in the cacophony of vested interests.”
Kenya’s Christian leaders called for a fresh start. “All have failed, including the church leaders.”
In a statement published on the NCCK’s website, church leaders called for the arrest of those involved in inciting violence as well as the disciplining of police officers who had used excessive force in responding to
They also called for the strengthening of the judiciary, Parliament and the Electoral Commission, and a ban on political parties that pandered to tribal interests and sectarian passions.
–This article appears in this week’s edition of the Church of England Newspaper