At Cathedral Consecration, Kenya’s Nuncio Cautions against Political Rallies in Churches

Christ the King Cathedral of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese. Cedit: Diocese of Bungoma/Facebook

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya, Archbishop Bert van Megen, has cautioned against converting churches into places for political rallies, insisting that places of worship should be exclusively for the sharing of the Word of God.

In his homily during the consecration of Christ the King Cathedral of Kenya’s Bungoma Diocese Saturday, May 8, Archbishop van Megen urged the people of God to be “very careful about how they use “the holiest of holies.”

“Our Churches should never be used for political rallies, keeping in mind the words of Christ ‘you shall not make my father’s house a house of trade’. We need to be very careful with the holiest of holies,” the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya said May 8.

He added, “The only word that should be spoken here is the Word of God. He is the Lord and Master of this House. Here, no political debate should take place. No trading, no bickering.”

The Dutch Archbishop who also represents the Holy Father in South Sudan expressed admiration for the Cathedral he was consecrating saying, “A new church, a beautiful church. I cannot look but admire this beautiful building. Its design, the light, the atmosphere.”


He congratulated the people for their hard work and for contributing towards the Cathedral’s construction, which has been said to be the biggest in Kenya, with a capacity of up to 4,000 people.

Every bit of the building represents those who participated in its construction, he added.

“Your contributions have been spent well,” Archbishop van Megen said, adding, “The stones, the masonry, the pillars, the windows, the tiles, and of course the altar, are all you; the fruit of your work is in here.”

The Holy Father’s representative in Kenya and in South Sudan further congratulated the Apostolic Administrator of Bungoma Diocese, Bishop Joseph Obanyi, in whose leadership the Cathedral had been completed and the immediate former Local Ordinary, Bishop Norman King’oo who initiated the Cathedral project before he was transferred to Kenya’s Machakos Diocese.

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In his address at the event, Bishop Obanyi thanked the faithful of Bungoma Diocese who he said had put their hearts and minds to the project until its completion.

“As Saint Paul says, there are those who plant, there are those who water, there are those who weed, and then there are those who harvest,” Bishop Obanyi who is the Local Ordinary of Kakamega Diocese said, and added, “I must say that I am one of those who have found themselves harvesting what was planted. And I wish to really express my gratitude to all those who have put their hearts and minds in this work.”

John Simiyu who headed the committee that was behind the construction of the Cathedral admitted that the project, started about six years ago, had taken long to be completed.

“We embarked on the construction of the Parish in 2014. It has taken us a very long time to realize this dream and that explains our happiness. We thank all members of this Diocese for their selfless giving that helped us get to this point,” Mr. Simiyu said.

He explained that it took the initiative of each member of the Church through their Small Christian Communities (SCCs) to raise over Ksh.130 million (US$1.3million) that was used to construct the Cathedral.


According to the Church official, the only thing remaining for the Cathedral to be complete are benches, which he said would cost Ksh.14 million (US$140,000).

He said that the cohesion in SCCs and in the church leadership went a long way in ensuring that each SCC met its target towards the construction of Christ the King Cathedral.

Hinting on some of the challenges witnessed during the process of constructing the Cathedral, Mr. Simiyu said, “It wasn’t easy with the pandemic. Some Christians thought that contributing towards the construction was a burden given that they were going through challenges of their own back at home.”

Many Christians, however, he said, remained focused on the project. “There are those who left but I know that they will come back and we shall be very ready to welcome them,” the church official added.

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His advice to people facing difficulties in implementing church projects owing to financial constraints is, “Be united. It may be just the five or ten of you but if you are united, your strength will go a long way.”

Mr. Simiyu further said that it is high time the Church in Africa stopped “over relying” on donors and explained that those who used to support the growth of the Church on the continent are now dealing with their own challenges.

“Let’s stop over relying on donors because the donors are also tired. Those who used to support us in evangelization are at a point where they know that their mission in Africa is accomplished. It is time that we looked into what we have to support our Church on the continent,” he said.

Fr. Christopher Wanyonyi who oversaw the construction of the Cathedral that is located at the centre of Bungoma town said that the growth in the number of faithful at Christ the King Cathedral Parish inspired the project.

“For a long time, we observed the number of people who attended Holy Mass at the Cathedral swell and the people would follow Holy Mass from outside under the scorching sun,” Fr. Wanyonyi said.

The Diocese of Bungoma currently has 41 Parishes. Key leaders in the Catholic Church in Kenya trace their roots to the Diocese including the Servant of God Maurice Michael Cardinal Otunga who served as the Archbishop of Nairobi.

Meanwhile, during the May 8 event, the Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya encouraged the Clergy, Religious, and the faithful in Bungoma Diocese to feel at home in their new place of worship, saying, “This is your church. This is your spiritual home. This is the place for Christians to feel at home with their God.”

“The Catholic Church is different from other churches because we truly believe that in the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist the Lord is present in the Church and will be present here when we celebrate the Eucharist,” Archbishop van Megen said, and added, “We pray that God may take full possession of this Church.”

He said, in reference to the church, “Here, Christ feeds us with his body and his blood and here we grow ever deeper and stronger into that one body of Christ, into that one Church of God.”

The Apostolic Nuncio in Kenya said that by partaking of the Body and Blood of Christ, all people become “blood brothers and blood sisters.”

This way, the Archbishop who has been representing the Holy Father in Kenya since February 2019 said, all people are a new family, “The family of God which goes beyond tribal differences that divide us.”

“I call upon you as a church and in a special way, the Clergy, to overcome the tribal differences that divide you,” Archbishop van Megen appealed in his May 8 homily.

His prayer for the people of God in Bungoma Diocese is for the new Cathedral to be a symbol of unity in the Kenyan Diocese.

“May this Cathedral bring you into a greater unity as a Diocese that the Christians of Bungoma will be that one family of God,” Archbishop van Megen reiterated, and implored, “May each and every one of us turn into that little temple, a tabernacle for the Lord, a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.”

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.