Kenya-based Catholic Priest Demystifies Church’s Governance Role in New Book

The cover page of the new book titled “Church and State relations: A manual for Africa” written by Fr. Jordan Nyenyembe/ Credit: Paulines Publications Africa

A Kenya-based Catholic Priest has, in his new book, sought to demystify the role of the Church in politics and governance across Africa.

Speaking during the official launch of his new book Thursday, July 1, Fr. Jordan Nyenyembe said, “The engagement of the Church should be very visible in all political processes across the continent. The Church should not leave all the political processes to politicians because if anything out of the irresponsibility goes a miss, we will all be directly affected.”

Fr. Nyenyembe who is a Senior Lecturer at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA), Gaba campus in Eldoret recounted the origin of the book idea.

 “Since I started lecturing ‘Church and State Relations’ at the university in 2013, I have always noticed a void in explaining how the two interrelate and how they need each other for the common good of everyone,” the member of the Clergy of Tanzania’s Mbinga Diocese said.

“Academic conversation over time around the topic with my students and colleagues shaped the basis of my writing,” he continued in reference to his new book published under the title, “Church and State relations: A manual for Africa.”


The eight-chapter 216-page book is relevant to both students who can use it for reference and to Christians in Africa who are seeking to understand their role in the running of States, Fr. Nyenyembe said during the July 1 book launch that was aired live on Capuchin TV.

The Priest who is at the helm of the African Ecclesial Review (AFER), a publication of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa (AMECEA), said in writing the book, he drew inspiration from Pope Benedict XVI’s 2011 Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, “Africa Munus”.

“The exhortation talks about good governance. It emphasizes to people how to perceive this new era of Pentecost in Africa. Ten years down the line as we celebrate ‘Africa Munus’, I felt that not much has been done to fulfill what is in the exhortations,” said Fr Nyenyembe.

He added, “There is still a lot we can do in bringing lay people into the service of God and drawing a balance between the same and State affairs.”

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Politics in most African countries have been viewed as “a dirty game” because there has never been direct good working relationships between the Church, which the Priest describes in the book as “a portion of the society”, and many governments.

“Most times we have been made to believe that politics is a dirty game. If at all, politics is dirty, why then was it described as a noble vocation in Vatican II. We should all look at politics as a calling that helps us build the Kingdom of God,” Fr Nyenyembe said, making reference to deliberations at the Second Vatican Council.

His new book, he went on to say, refers to many ancient African leaders who first encountered with Christianity by welcoming missionaries and this, he said, is seen to inspire the good relationship between the Church and State on the continent.

Asked about the uniqueness of the book in relation to other publications on the Church and State, the Tanzanian-born Priest who has ministered in Kenya since 2013 said, “I wrote this book from an academic formation and a theological perspective. It is a fusion of the two, which gives a good Christian explanation on how the Church should be involved in the affairs of states.”

Also speaking during the July 1 launch in reference to the new book, AMECEA Communications Coordinator, Fr. Andrew Kaufa remarked, “The Church and State might always look like they are brushing shoulders when they fail to agree on certain terms. As the book suggests, this ‘misunderstanding’ is normally for the common good of everybody.”


Fr. Kaufa’s sentiments echo those of Bishop Maurice Muhatia of Kenya’s Nakuru Diocese who wrote the Preface of the book.

The relationship between the Church and the State, Bishop Muhatia says in the Preface, “often evokes sentiments of admiration and distate in equal measure.”

Nonetheless, the Bishop says, a closer collaboration between the two entities “has never been more urgent as in our times; at the same time there has perhaps never been a relationship that is increasingly more misunderstood and undervalued.”

It is against this background, the Kenyan Bishop says, “that this work by Dr. Nyenyembe on the relations between the Church and the State is as informative as it is relevant today.”

The book “moves to both demystify the correlation between these two basic institutions and to encourage closer cooperation between them by debunking some popular myths and misconceptions,” Bishop Muhatia says in the Preface of the new book.

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Published by the Paulines Publications Africa, the new book also seeks to guide Christians to leadership roles and to foster collaboration with Church leaders.

“Today’s reader is tomorrow’s leader,” Sr. Olga Massangu, a member of the Daughters of St. Paul (FSP) who participated in the launch said in reference to the new book, and added, “Christianity, through such intellectual achievements, helps people draw a conclusion on how it will judge the State.”

The Pauline Sister announced that the book can be procured through the link at a cost of KES 800 (US$8.00).