The leadership of the Catholic Diocese of Kisii has returned a Sh100,000 contribution it received from Dagoretti North MP Simba Arati.
Though Mr Arati said he had not received the money, he described the move as unfortunate, noting that it is wrong for the church to play politics.
The MP said he contributed more than Sh100,000 to the church, explaining that he funded the contributions of some of the top leaders who attended the church service.
“I gave out money to several leaders in the church. Why then are they claiming to have returned part of the money? Why are they not returning the rest, which amounts to more than Sh300,000,” wondered Mr Arati.
He alleged that a section of the church leadership was being used by some politicians from Gusii to frustrate their opponents.
Commotion in church
The Nairobi-based lawmaker, who is eyeing the Kisii governor’s seat, explained that a commotion occurred in Nyamagwa Catholic Parish during a church programme officiated by the representative of the Pope in Kenya, Herbertus Van Megen.
“Yes, a problem occurred and there was shouting in the church between supporters of various politicians when I got in. I do not understand why the shouting occurred yet I had been invited to the church by the priests. That is my home constituency,” he said.
“When the noise persisted, I was requested by one of the priests to step out to allow for normalcy to return. But a section of the faithful followed me out and demanded that I address them. But I declined.”
He said the faithful followed him some kilometres away from the church.
“It was then that I addressed them and tried to calm them. What happened on Sunday is very unfortunate. I respect the church and I strongly believe in God. At the end of it all, I have no bishop or father who is my godfather, but I have God,” he said.
Not allowed to speak
Sources indicated that Mr Arati was irked because he was denied a chance to speak.
Ford Kenya party leader Moses Wetang’ula and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa were, however, allowed to address the congregation.
He said the issue has taken a political angle and accused the Kisii Catholic Diocese leaders of being used by his opponents in Kisii whom he accused of frustrating his bid.
“I am aware that the said leaders met a section of the church leadership yesterday. But it’s okay, let them declare if they are for a section of leaders. I don’t want a fight with the church, but I am calling for sobriety and fairness,” Mr Arati said.
He said the church leaders are their friends but had decided to side with their clansmen.
“Senior politicians from Kisii County fighting me come from the same clan with the church leaders. This issue has taken a political and clan direction. It has nothing to do with spirituality, it’s all politics,” said the legislator.
Kitutu South MP Richard Onyonka, who has been campaigning with Mr Arati, told the Nation that the steps taken by the Catholic Church were unfortunate.
“Whether they return the money or not, for me this doesn’t bother me. It looks like the Catholic Church has decided to have a fight with Arati. I am not sure what this means. At a personal level, it doesn’t bother me much,” said Mr Onyonka, who recently defected to ODM from Ford Kenya.
My Onyonka has declared interest in the Kisii senatorial seat and has been crisscrossing the county together with Mr Arati.
Speaking at a funeral in Kisii County yesterday, Catholic Bishop Joseph Mairura warned politicians to be careful about their behaviour while in church so as not to offend God.
Bishop Mairura, without mentioning names, said that he was offended by one politician wanting to interfere with a church programme officiated by the Pope’s representative in Kenya.
”Let me warn our politicians that you cannot succeed by fighting God and the Church. Those who do that stand cursed and will not go anywhere,” he said.
A senior priest of the church, who did not want to be named, confirmed to the Nation that they had refunded Mr Arati’s contribution.
The priest said the Catholic Church cannot tolerate disrespect from politicians.
Bobasi MP Innocent Obiri, who had the microphone when Mr Arati entered the church, told journalists that Mr Arati had to walk out of the church when he was denied a chance to address the faithful.
He later addressed his supporters outside the church after he realised he could not address the congregation.
“I was instructed to allow only two specific members to speak. My colleague, Arati, started protesting why I did not allow him to speak,” Mr Obiri said.
Nyaribari Masaba MP Ezekiel Machogu, Kitutu Masaba’s Shadrack Mose and Joseph Majimbo Kalasinga of Kabuchai were among others present at the function. They did not address the congregation either.
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