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 CNS Story:

KENYA-GUIDELINES Jul-1-2010 (420 words) xxxi

Kenyan bishops set guidelines to help priests live spiritual lives

By Walter Cheruiyot
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- The Kenyan bishops' conference has distributed a set of general guidelines to priests to help them live their lives grounded in the vows they took at ordination.

Cardinal John Njue of Nairobi, conference chairman, said during a Mass June 30 marking the closing of the Year for Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI that the guidelines were prepared in the wake of the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has plagued the church around the world.

He told more than 500 priests attending the liturgy at Holy Family Basilica in the Kenyan capital that the church will not harbor those clerics accused of child abuse.

At the same time, he announced that each diocese in Kenya will be asked to develop child protection policies aimed at reducing cases of sexual abuse by clergy and anyone else affiliated with the church. He said the policies will help maintain the reputation of the Kenyan church.

Noting that not all allegations of abuse were true, Cardinal Njue challenged the priests to be responsible spiritual leaders and to live in accordance with the expectations that being an ordained priest entails.

The guidelines also will help priests in their spiritual, emotional and personal life, Cardinal Njue explained.

Archbishop Alain Lebeaupin, apostolic nuncio to Kenya, led 20 bishops at the Mass and reminded the priests to remain faithful to their vocation. He said the ordained priesthood is a special calling and that priests must set examples for others.

In light of reports of priestly sexual abuse, Archbishop Lebeaupin said the reputation of the church must be protected by all means.

"I challenged bishops to guide priests in their spiritual life since the vocation requires a lifetime commitment to service," he said.

During the celebration, Cardinal Njue distributed the guidelines, prepared in book form, to each bishop in attendance. The bishops were asked to make copies available to all of the priests in their respective dioceses.

The cardinal urged the priests to take time to read and study the guidelines for their benefit and the church.

Speaking with Catholic News Service afterward, Cardinal Njue maintained that the book will go a long way in assisting priests to live as servants of the church.

He said the church will be best served by priests who respect their lifelong vow of celibacy.

"If one has chosen to be a priest, then a celibate life is a must. It is a sacrifice and as such if one wants to disobey then forget priesthood," he said.


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