Kenyan Cardinal Cautions against ‘cult-like’ Groups Promoting “retrogressive practices”

John Cardinal Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya.

The existence and influence of two groups involved in cult-like operations within the Archdiocese of Nairobi is a cause of “serious pastoral concern” for the top leadership of the Kenyan Archdiocese, the Archbishop of Nairobi, John Cardinal Njue has cautioned in a letter read out Sunday, March 8 in all parishes under his care.

“These groups bear characteristics of a cult and use tactics of instilling fear in order to inculcate their doctrines and enforce their practices upon individuals,” Cardinal Njue’s letter reads in part, referencing two group, which he identified as “Gwata Ndai” and “another group whose name is still unknown and has similar characteristics to Gwata Ndai group.”

Operational in some areas of the 114-parish Archdiocese of Nairobi, the committee appointed to investigate the groups established that the groups have targeted Catholic faithful at the grassroots with the methodology of fear and intimidation.

“They instill fear (such as fear of death and calamities if one ignores their teachings) and coercion in recruiting new members,” Cardinal Njue shares the findings of the committee he appointed “within the presbyteral council whose mandate was to investigate and give a report on the origin, objectives, extent of operations and effects.”

“The groups claim to be advocating for Cultural renaissance through reinforcing of cultural traditions and practices, men empowerment and reinstating the traditional way of worship,” the Cardinal stated in his three-page letter dated March 4.


Teachings of these cult-like groups, the investigative team established, “include some retrogressive practices such as female circumcision, male chauvinism and subjugation of women.”

The investigations that were also meant to find out the impact of the groups “on individual Christians, families, the Church and society at large within the Archdiocese of Nairobi” showed “various adverse effects” with “Numerous cases of family disintegration and conflicts, and of emotional and psychological imbalances especially upon children and women,” the 76-year-old Kenyan Prelate reported in his letter.

He added, “There are also many reported cases of individual Christians defecting from the small Christian communities, ecclesial groups and from the church in order to embrace the teachings and practices of the said groups.”

“For those who may have fallen prey to the teachings of these groups,” the Kenyan Cardinal who is also a member of Vatican-based Congregation for the Clergy expresses the desire to have them back to the Catholic Church.

“I wish to welcome you back to the Church and assure you of God's mercy and forgiveness,” the Cardinal declares and urges “priests who may have such cases in their parishes to re-integrate those who are willing to come back to the Church into the flock of Christ.”

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“In a special way, accompany the children and young people and enhance good cultural formation for all the faithful,” the Cardinal reiterates.

“For you my men and women in various ecclesial groups, always openly talk about issues affecting your members amongst yourselves and never hesitate to share such challenges with your priests,” he encourages.

Referencing the process of returning back to the Church, the Cardinal clarifies, “This is to be done through the guidance of our liturgical rite after going through retreat (prayer/fasting) and the sacrament of reconciliation.”

In the letter, the fourth Archbishop of Nairobi makes reference to the Post-Synodal Exhortation of Pope St. John Paul II, Ecclesia in Africa, which acknowledges that our Church “is endowed with cultural values and priceless human qualities which it can offer to the Churches and to humanity as a whole.”

Acknowledging that “evangelization must enter into dialogue with culture if it is to produce any effects on human beings,” Cardinal Njue encourages the people of God under his care “to realize that they can preserve and glorify their past (i.e., culture) without reverting to it, but by immortalizing it in lived faith” and above all, to “hold dear our Christian values as well as our positive cultural heritage.”


The Cardinal further encourages the estimated 1.6 million Catholics in the Archdiocese to remain faithful to the teachings of Christ and His Church and “avoid the danger of syncretism, i.e., mixing faith with some of the cultural beliefs that are not in line with the Church's teachings. We also need to avoid the danger of idolatry.”