Fellow Clergy, Confreres, Can Be the Biggest Threat to a Priest: Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya

Archbishop van Megen, Bishop John Oballa Owaa of the Ngong Diocese alongside 12 members of the Mill Hill Missionary congregation who were ordained Deacons on September 24. Credit: ACI Africa

A Catholic Priest is most likely to face more opposition, criticism and all manner of threats from his fellow members of Clergy and confreres than from anywhere else, the representative of the Holy Father in Kenya has said.

In his homily during the September 24 Diaconate Ordination at St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral of the Catholic Diocese of Ngong in Kenya, Archbishop Hubertus van Megen cautioned Priests against keeping the company of colleagues who have the habit of always criticizing others.

Archbishop van Megen told the 12 members of St. Joseph’s Missionary Society, also known as the Mill Hill Missionaries (MHM), he was about to ordain transitional Deacons that it is within the Church that a Priest faces the biggest threat, away from other challenges including culture shocks.

“Sometimes you will be sent to difficult places, and sometimes, the mission seems to be filled with endless challenges and obstacles and you may be full of frustration. Many times, those challenges are rooted in the nature of the mission, and the people you have to mission to, and the place you have to go, the culture and the climate. But the true difficulties and threats are not coming from outside the Church but from inside the Church,” he said.

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya who also representatives the Holy Father in South Sudan added, “Those who criticize you, those who speak behind your back, those who try to destroy you are many times your own colleagues, your fellow Priests, maybe even members of your own Congregation who spend long hours drinking and criticizing others.”


The Vatican diplomat who started his service as Apostolic Nuncio in Sudan in May 2014 observed that members of the Clergy and Religious who have the tendency of criticizing others are those “who are bitter, whose salt lost the taste”.

“The fiercest wolves are found inside the Church; they are found in the people you trusted the most,” the Dutch-born Archbishop cautioned those he was about to ordain transitional Deacons.

He explained, “As the Psalmist says, ‘if an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it. If the foe were arising against me, I could hide, but it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my friend with whom I enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God as we walked among the worshippers.’”

“Was Jesus himself not betrayed by a friend, his own disciple?” Archbishop van Megen posed, and added, “To be betrayed, to be criticized when living and preaching the word of God, is inevitable. Evil will look for every way to destroy a man of God.”

He encouraged those he was about to ordain transitional Deacons to always find strength in Jesus Christ who was criticized for associating with sinners, and eventually betrayed by someone he considered a friend.

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“Jesus says, I will send you like lambs in the midst of wolves. Who would those wolves be? Who attacks you? When do you appear to be defenseless? Who is attacking you when you are only trying to defend the weak and excluded, the sinner? Who will criticize you the most? Who will try to undermine you?” the Apostolic Nuncio posed.

He added, “It’s a bit like the life of Jesus himself who was criticized when eating with tax collectors and sinners.”

The Apostolic Nuncio who doubles as the Permanent Observer to the United Nations Environment Program and Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) found it regrettable that a section of members of the Clergy have chosen to be “worldly”, instead of living “out of the world” as per their calling.

“As Jesus says in the Gospel of John, ‘if you were of this world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you because you are not of the world. But I have chosen you out of the world’. Sadly, the world has entered the Church and many Priests and Religious have become very worldly,” Archbishop van Megen lamented.

He urged the MHM members he was about to ordain Deacons to always stay away from members of the Clergy who have the habit of criticizing others.


“Do not fall for the temptation to be part of that Clergy who sit together to criticize others,” the Nuncio said, adding, “Turn away from those false friends; shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house. Go your way to bring peace to the people, and not resentment. You have been chosen out of the world. You should therefore leave the world with its dealings behind you.”

Archbishop van Megen who has represented the Holy Father in Kenyan since his appointment in February 2019 reassured those he was about to ordain Deacons that their Superiors would send them on missions based on their strengths and weaknesses.

“Your Superiors have accompanied you on this long road to the road of today, a road of many years, 10 years or more. But they also know about the demands of the mission. They know about the rich harvest and the demand for workers,” he said.

He added, “Your Superiors have come to know you and they know about your qualities and weaknesses and they will send you to the places where you can serve best, but also to those places where you can grow.”

The 12 ordained transitional Deacons during the September 24 Eucharistic celebration were natives of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, and Malaysia.

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They included Eric Njume Njume, Nelson Zang Kum Ntsam, Joseph Kindong Yong, Celestine Suliy Kiven, Kingsley Botambu, Conrad Yong Akong, Marcellinus Chibeh Chia, and Collins Ndifor, all from Cameroon.

Candidates from DRC were Reagan Daniel Bangamodjo and Camille Loola Prince. Joseph Emeru who hails from Uganda and Elvost Lunchi from Malaysia were among the ordained transitional Deacons.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.