Ahead of Barack Obama’s planned visit to Kenya (24-26 July), Catholic bishops promised to oppose any advocacy on the part of the US President of homosexuality and population control.
Mr Obama has been a vocal supporter of gay rights: the White House itself was illuminated in rainbow colours to celebrate last month’s Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage nationwide. African bishops broadly condemned that ruling.
Mr Obama was due in Nairobi for the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit. In his father’s homeland, Catholic bishops fear he will promote a gay-rights agenda in a country where Churches oppose homosexuality as unbiblical and culturally offensive. Kenya’s constitution bans active homosexuality and homosexual acts carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.
“He must stick to his purpose – the economic conference,” Bishop Paul Njiri Kariuki of Embu diocese told The Tablet. “We must maintain our gravity. I think it is wrong for anyone to push us to accept what is not morally right.” Bishop Kariuki said he supported demonstrations planned for the visit that supported marriage as the union of one man and one woman. “I think homosexuals need help. When they come to us, we try to help and rehabilitate them,” he said.
In 2013, when Mr Obama visited Africa, Nairobi Archbishop Cardinal John Njue told Mr Obama to respect African cultural values. “I don’t think God made a mistake when he created Adam and Eve and told them what to do,” Cardinal Njue said then. At the same time, the bishops are anxious that Mr Obama may push for population control measures. Many bishops detect such an agenda behind aggressive advocacy on the part of some NGOs of contraception and decriminalisation of abortion.