Increase of Missionaries’ Work Permit Charges “absolutely unethical”: Kenya’s Catholic Bishops

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

The move by the Kenyan government to revise upwards work permit charges for missionaries in the East African nation denotes ingratitude to the sacrifices of people, who have dedicated their lives to making the society a good place, Catholic Bishops in the country have said.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, April 11 at Roussel House of Donum Dei Missionary Sisters in Karen, Nairobi, Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said, “We are surprised by the exorbitant increase in the Work Permit Charges paid for Missionaries, from KES 15,000 (US$115.00) to KES 150,000 (US$1,153.00).”

They fault the move as “absolutely unethical” and one that “shows a lack of gratitude to people dedicating their lives to the good of society.”

“We as a country should be showing gratitude and appreciation through giving waivers to priests, religious men and women, and other social missionary volunteers who come to complement our social engagement. We request that their work permit be zero-rated,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say. 

In the statement titled, “Cry of the Oppressed”, which was read out during their address to journalists on April 11 at Roussel House, KCCB members recalled that in the past, Kenya exhibited “great respect and recognition” for missionaries, who are in the country to render services, motivated by love, and sacrifice for the people of God. 


Missionaries, the Catholic Bishops say in their six-page statement shared with ACI Africa, “have been proudly Kenyan, contributing generously in all ways.”

Many of the missionaries, they continue, “are buried in our soil. Today many, with great sacrifice continue offering great services of charity, and social work.”

KCCB members go on to lament what they describe as the government’s “gradual intent to undermine the role of the Church as a Stakeholder in Society”, and add, “Our African society has always been rooted and anchored in a deep respect and reverence to God.”

“Our common belief in God leads us to respect life and uphold the dignity of every person. The role of the Church is to safeguard and nurture the morals and values in society that this relationship with God entails,” they said.

The Catholic Bishops say they concerned that the government is undermining “the role of the Catholic Church, and indeed all Faiths as safeguards of morality in society. We especially decry this subversion in the fields of education and health.”

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KCCB members say they have noted with concern the “changing dynamics of the relationship between ourselves and the government.”

They also express their concern about the country’s proposed Basic Education Bill 2024, which they say seeks to “repeal colonial education policies that provided inferior education and prepared natives for non-skilled labor and menial work.”

According to the Bishops, the proposed reforms will “dilute and reduce the role of the Church on schools and other educational institutions.”

“From independence, there has been a gradual attempt to wrestle the management and role of Churches in the schools. The proposed new Bill now further threatens this crucial role of Churches in our Education system,” Catholic Bishops in Kenya say. 

“We, therefore, decry and reject the systematic scheme to undermine and weaken our management role as the founders of the Catholic Sponsored schools,” they say.


Basic Education Bill 2024, KCCB members say, “is a breach of the original arrangement between the Church and the State on how Church-founded education institutions were to be managed.”

“Our history is very clear, that many of these institutions were established by our missionaries, who worked tirelessly and with great sacrifice, to set them up and nurtured them for many years,” they explain in their collective statement following their five-day meeting at Roussel House.

Over the years, the Catholic Church has contributed to the academic training as well as the “true formation of morals and humanity,” KCCB members say, adding, “This has given our Country great leaders and forged the moral fabric of our Kenyan society.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.