|John Karimi [Photo||Nation]|
A priest has quit the Catholic Church in protest against celibacy saying he cannot do without sex.
Father John Karimi, now married with three children, had served the church for 15 years.
He felt that celibacy was not practical in the mainstream church and opted out rather than continue cheating God and his flock.
“I made up my mind to walk out of the Church and have a wife of my own whom I cherish instead of living a hypocritical life and finally go to hell,” he told the Nation in an exclusive interview.
Celibacy was introduced to ensure that priests with a calling to serve God concentrated in spiritual nourishment.
It was also introduced to avoid nepotism, which was prevalent in one of the oldest churches.
Before the introduction of the rule, the founding Popes and priests used to influence recruitment of their family members to the Church, the Father said.
According to Father Karimi, the founders had wives and family and at one time one of the Pope was succeeded by his son.
He clearly recollected how in 2004 while he was in-charge of Ichagaki parish, he decided it was time to go and start a new life than continue sinning against God.
Father Karimi boldly approached the then Murang’a Catholic Bishop Peter Kihara and informed him of his decision.
However, the Bishop would not accept and pleaded with him to stay urging him that he would be used to celibacy with time.
The Bishop then gave him one year to meditate over the issue and give a feedback.
After staying outside the Church for one year, Father Karimi reported back to the Bishop and told him his decision still stood but he remained adamant asking him not to quit.
Unsatisfied, the clergyman wrote to Pope John 11 in 2005 through Bishop Kihara asking to be relieved of his priesthood duties.
The priest never got a reply. He left the Church unceremoniously and settled in his rural home in Kirinyaga County.
“I had to leave whether I was allowed to go or not. And I say this with finality,” he said.
Ever since, Father Karimi led a quiet life until Saturday when he went public about his tribulations.
Without mincing words, the priest said almost all the priests do not practice celibacy.
He disclosed that in his priesthood, he had four different girlfriends.
“I used to make love to these women. More often than not I would sleep with a woman and the following day on Sunday I’m at the altar delivering a sermon and giving out sacrament. Sometimes I would feel so guilty or feel like dying when I thought of the celibacy vows I took,” he said.
Instead of embracing such a life that could easily make him rejected in heaven when time comes to meet his maker, Father Karimi tied the knot with Mary Nanjekho.
He met her in 2006 and proposed to her after a few months of courtship.
He got married at the Attorney General’s chambers as no Church was willing to solemnise his wedding.
When he married Nanjekho, she had two children. He later sired another child with her.
Father Karimi said “like air and food, sex is a necessity that one can’t do without. It is a basic human need and psychologists can attest to this”.
He claimed that 95 per cent of the priests were not celibate and suggested celibacy which he noted was introduced in the 16th century should be scrapped or made optional.
He said many priests would like to take the hard decision of quitting but because of money have chosen to remain in service.
“When one is a priest in the Catholic Church, he has everything he wants. Money, transport, accommodation and many other benefits and many clergy have chosen to go to hell than leave and suffer,” he said.
Father Karimi said although he initially had difficulties in making ends meet, he slowly got accustomed to life outside the Church.
And because he loved priesthood so much, he was Saturday consecrated the Bishop of Ecumenical Catholic Church of Christ in a colourful ceremony at Good Samaritan Secondary School in Mwea. He will be in-charge of Mount Kenya region.
Born in 1964 at a remote Mahigaini village, Father Karimi grew in a Christian family.
As a young boy, he admired priesthood and vowed that he would become a priest when he grew up , a dream that came true in 1990 when he was ordained.
Father, Karimi, a second born in family of 12, holds a Bachelors Degree in Theology from the University of Ubaniana in Italy.
Father Karimi is not alone.
Father Godfrey Shiundu and Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo are some of the priests who have rebelled and quit. Both have since married.
While conducting the consecration ceremony, Archbishop Theuri who also quit the Catholic Church, said Christianity has evolved for Africans to make their own decisions on religious matters.
He insisted the New Church was not at war with the Roman Catholic Church but just differed in principle.
The Archbishop said the New Church has now 300,000 followers in Kenya and its wings are spreading fast.
So far, the Church has consecrated five Bishops across the country.