When US President Barrack Obama back in June 2013 called for better treatment of the LGBTQ community while in Senegal, Cardinal John Njue reacted by saying: “Let him forget, forget and forget.”
Njue, the immediate former head of the Catholic Church in Kenya, said Africans must be allowed to determine their own destiny, including on gay rights, which he called unAfrican and a violation of Bible teachings.
“… [the] United States has ruined their own societies… I don’t think God was making a mistake when he created Adam and Eve and told them what to do,” he said.
Cardinal John Njue was a fierce defender of conservative family values, a mission that put him on a collision course with the powerful. He considered it his job to give them his truth, which he considered to be the truth.
Pope Francis accepted Cardinal Njue’s resignation on Monday. He had passed the mandatory retirement age of 75 as required by the canon law that guides the Roman Catholic Church. Njue has stepped down as the head of the Nairobi Diocese, but he remains a cardinal until the age of 80. He led the diocese since 2007.
The Vatican said in a statement the Pope had appointed Nairobi Auxiliary Bishop David Kamau as the Apostolic Administrator of Nairobi Archdiocese.
Back in 2013, Cardinal Njue’s chiding of Obama received pushback from Charles Daniel Balvo, another Pope-appointed official of the Catholic Church in Kenya.
“The homosexuals should be defended against violation of their dignity and human rights, they are human beings like any one of us,” Balvo, the Apostolic Nuncio to Kenya at the time, told a Catholic assembly.
A year after the spat with Obama, Cardinal Njue led Catholic bishops to reject a government-led and WHO-endorsed anti-tetanus vaccination drive. The jab exclusively targeted women of reproductive ages of 14 to 49.
The bishops were concerned that the drive only targeted fertile women, suggesting it was a population control plot to inhibit fertility. They said an independent test of the vaccine sample had found that it contained beta-human chorionic gonadotropin, a birth control hormone. They urged Kenyans to boycott the jab.
Further in 2015, Njue led the church in rejecting a polio vaccination drive carried out by the Ministry of Health and sponsored by Unicef and WHO. The vaccine had been found to be contaminated when it was administered on children in Nigeria, they claimed.
The government said the jab was safe as it was manufactured by the WHO. The state told the public to ignore the church. But Njue dug in, insisting that the government should have subjected it to independent testing to ensure safety.
“Kenyans must be the ones determining their own destiny as not everything coming from outside the country is safe,” Njue said.
In June 2017, during the celebration of Family Day, Njue slammed men who demand hefty bride prices from their daughters’ suitors. In defence of the family unit, he argued that such men “put roadblocks in the way of marriages by making exorbitant demands for payment from the groom’s family”.
In 2019, Njue again led the church’s bishops to reject policies discussed during the ICPD25, a global UNFPA summit held in Nairobi to discuss reproductive health rights. Born in Embu in 1944, Njue was ordained a priest in 1973 in Rome before returning to the country the following year to embark on his ministry work in Kariakomu in Meru.
The Catholic Church considers sexual activity between members of the same sex to be a sin. This teaching has developed through a number of ecumenical councils and the influence of theologians, including the Church Fathers. Historically, the Catholic Church has resisted the acceptance of homosexuality within Christian society.