Kenyan Catholics threat to split church over gay blessings

Holy Ghost Cathedral, Mombasa, Kenya
Kenyan Catholics have rejected Pope Francis allowing blessings for same-sex couples. Photo by Zahra Abdulmajid/Wikipedia Creative Commons

Prominent Kenyan Catholics say they will defy the Vatican’s new directive that priests may perform informal blessings for same-sex couples, with some even threatening to split from the rest of the Roman Catholic church over the issue.

“Anyone who comes to me or any other priest and is gay with the intention that we join them in marriage or even bless their union will be chased away,” Bishop Joseph Obanyi warned in the lead up to Christmas, according to The Standard.

“We stick to what we have been teaching from time immemorial about marriage being between opposite sex.”

However senator Boni Khalwale of Kenya’s ruling United Democratic Alliance has threatened to go even further, suggesting that African Catholics should split from the Roman Catholic church to form their own church over the issue.

“If the white people think that they can force us Catholics to subscribe to that order then I call upon, all the Catholic[s] of Africa, now do not get out of the church [sic] so that they may have a Roman Catholic church and we have an African Catholic church,” he said in comments reported by

“We must refuse homosexuality because the whites are doing those acts. We are Africans. A child bullfighting in Shinyaru, cannot sleep with another boy, it is not possible.”

“Do not allow to engage yourselves with a church that supports marriages that are opposite to the teaching of the Bible and of Jesus Christ.”

The new directive from the Vatican expressly forbids blessings for a same-sex couples to occur as part of a church service and any blessing must not take a form that could be confused with a marriage ritual.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya under colonial era British laws and consensual acts between males carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

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Andrew M Potts

Andrew has been covering LGBTQIA+ issues for a range of publications in Australia over two decades and was the Asia-Pacific correspondent for global LGBTQIA+ news website Gay Star News.

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