“They want us to tremble”, Kenyan Archbishop Faults Proud Leaders, Urges Listening

Archbishop Anthony Muheria of Kenya’s Nyeri Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Nairobi

The key message of the Synod on Synodality is listening, a virtue that most leaders in Kenya lack, the Catholic Archbishop of the country’s Nyeri Archdiocese has said.

According to Archbishop Anthony Muheria, the leaders that Kenyans have today are led by pride and seek to instill fear in those they are supposed to be serving.

In an audio recording shared on WhatsApp on Sunday, October 8, Archbishop Muheria said that conversations are missing among politicians.

He added, “What we have in our country are directives that come from above. Our leaders are used to giving us instructions, giving us speeches that come from above, speeches that are filled with pride, speeches that show how powerful they are and how we are supposed to tremble when they address us. This is not godly.”

The Kenyan Archbishop delivered his message from Rome where he is participating in the ongoing October 4-29 Synod on Synodality conversations, with October 5 as the first full day of work.


He said that the meeting of the more than 400 delegates of the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in Rome is centered on how the Catholic Church can journey together in synodality “without leaving anyone behind”, and ensuring that everyone is listened to.

“Dear Kenyans, as we continue with our conversations here in Rome, my message to you is that we need to go back to the root of our faith and learn to listen to each other. This is the message of the ongoing Synod,” Archbishop Muheria said.

“Our leaders must learn to be humble and to listen,” he said, and added, “You must talk to us with respect, knowing that what you have been given is an opportunity to serve. It is a short opportunity; use it to serve others, and not to look for ways to oppress those you are supposed to serve.”

The Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese, who doubles as the Chairman of the Commission for Social Communications of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) cautioned leaders, especially politicians, against using their positions to show those they lead just how powerful they are.

“Do not wait to be humbled by God,” Archbishop Muheria warned, and added, “And God can surely humble us when we think that we are very powerful…. If we go about chest-thumping about how powerful we are, we may not be here tomorrow. There is absolutely no need to be proud.”

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The Kenyan member of Opus Dei acknowledged that the two years of the Synod on Synodality had allowed for conversations at various levels of the Church, including the Small Christian Communities (SCCs), Parishes and Dioceses.

With the synod on synodality, he said, the Church is finding ways to give everyone an opportunity to air their views on how to be witnesses. 

Archbishop Muheria expressed concern that individualism was taking the place of conversations especially in families where members are not listening to each other.

“Recently, I asked some men how many of them took more than two hours, when schools were closed for holidays, to listen to their children. Not to guide them, not to inform them, not to advise them, but to listen to them,” he said, and added, “Sadly, we have forgotten the value of conversations in our homes.”

“Conversations in our families have been overtaken by mobile phones, TVs, and music; everything but listening. The man is no longer listening to his wife. The wife is no longer listening to her husband. Children don't listen to their parents and the parents no longer listen to their children,” he lamented.


The Archbishop of Nyeri who was recently appointed Apostolic Administrator of Embu Diocese in Kenya observed a situation where everyone seemed to be too busy for conversations, saying, “There is no time to exchange pleasantries such as normal greetings to know how your neighbor is fairing.”

“No one has time for the beggar on the street. What these beggars need, some time, is just our time, and not always money. Let’s listen to them,” the Catholic Archbishop said, and added, “Let's have conversations. But most importantly, let's learn to listen to each other.”

In his audio recording shared on October 8, he urged those in leadership positions to “get off our high horses” and learn to be around people, listening “to each other in brotherly love.” 

To those he said feel like they do not have many opportunities to talk, he said, “Let’s learn to say something. Say a greeting. Let’s learn from our Mother Mary’s greeting of her cousin Elizabeth. This simple greeting gave Elizabeth grace.”

Meanwhile, Archbishop Muheria has appealed for prayers for those participating in the Synod on Synodality, saying, “Pray for us so that whatever comes out of our conversations may build the Church where everyone is a witness.”

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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.