KENYA: Pope’s Visit a time to Define Relationship with State, Bishop says

NAIROBI NOVEMBER 6, 2015 (CISA) – Bishop John Oballa Owaa, Vice-Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) has said Pope Francis visit “is a good time to evaluate and clearly define in law the relationship between the Church and the state here in Kenya”.

Bishop Oballa of the Catholic Diocese of Ngong said that Pope Francis “is coming to our country as the head of state of the Vatican and as the visible head of the Catholic Church.”

The prelate was speaking today at a press conference at The University of Nairobi Grounds during the assessment by the Kenyan bishops of the dais to be used for the Papal Mass as part of the preparations for the pope’s visit.

Bishop Oballa said that both the Church and state has respective roles in the society, and there is need to take into cognition the separate spheres and competences that each of them enjoys and to recognize, affirm and protect the complementary roles that both have in respect to the service provision to the people of Kenya.

“The state has to respect the autonomy of the Church and at the same time give the necessary concessions to the Church in view of her missionary and charitable works especially in the area of tax exemption,” he said.

The bishop further called on the government to always seek the counsel of the Church on important issues so that the concerns of the Church and all Kenyans are taken into account.

“It is right and just that before any major decisions that has moral and spiritual implications and are directly or indirectly touches on those areas that pertain to the competence of the Church is made by the state, it is important for her to consult and dialogue with the Church,” he said.

The bishop also said that the pope’s visit “will be an opportunity of renewal for all of us Kenyans as we expect his message to inspire us to a greater sense of responsibility and duty to build a country that is peaceful and God-fearing.”

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