Anglican Church agrees to reinstate priests in gay case

Bishop Joseph Kagunda, of the Mt Kenya West Diocese of the Anglican Church, at the High Court in Nyeri County on March 19, 2018. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Anglican Church on Thursday agreed to reinstate three priests who were suspended on allegations of engaging in homosexuality.

This is after Mt Kenya West Diocese Bishop Joseph Mwangi Kagunda missed jail by a whisker when a judge lifted an order committing him to prison for contempt of court.

Justice Nzioki Makau, of the Labour Court in Nyeri, had committed the cleric to jail for disobeying the court’s directive to reinstate the three priests.

“There has been no compliance and no reasons issued. You are committed to jail,” the judge told the Bishop, who was dressed in his spiritual vestments, in a courtroom full of clergies and church members.

The order was lifted after the Bishop said the matters surrounding the case are issues of the church and that he was the wrong person in the dock.

He appeared in court after a warrant of arrest was issued by the court for disregarding orders to compensate, reinstate and deploy Reverend Paul Warui, Archdeacon John Gachau and Reverend James Maigua to ministerial duties.

The court order addressed to the Bishop is dated October 30, 2016 and was issued by Justice Byram Ongaya.

The judge also directed the church to compensate the priests Sh6.8 million after finding the suspension was illegal and the homosexual claims were untrue.

None of the orders has been complied with, to the detriment of the three priests and their families who continue to suffer because of lack of sustenance, the court heard.

The Bishop’s lawyer Wachira Nderitu pleaded with the judge to spare the soft-spoken Bishop saying he is a man of advanced age of 60 years and the non-compliance was not deliberate.

“Bishop has never been a party to the case. He may not have complied due to circumstances. We are surprised by the committal order,” said the lawyer.

“Stay execution of the committal order on condition of compliance for interest of justice. Compliance will be immediately and the claimants will be served with deployment letters,” added Mr Nderitu.

The Bishop said he was not aware of the orders though they were issued two years ago.

Feeling dissatisfied with the reason advanced by Bishop Kagunda, the judge directed him to file an affidavit within one hour.

In the two-page affidavit made of 11 grounds, the Bishop indicated that he was aware of the court proceedings because the three claimants are members of the clergy in his diocese.

“However, and as was also clearly stated by their advocates in this matter, I have never been a party to the suit. For that reason, I am not aware and cannot give any reason as to why any decree or order of this court have not been complied with,” said the Bishop.

He said he has served in the church at the capacity of the diocese Bishop for a period of 13 years.