The Catholic Church in Kenya has suspended one of its priests who has recently been in the limelight for rapping in church as a way of preaching the gospel.
Father Paul Ogalo of St. Monica Catholic Church in Rapogi, Migori County, south-west of Nairobi, was suspended on June 3 for alleged misconduct by the Homa Bay Diocese.
Fr Charles Kochiel, the judicial vicar of the inter-diocesan tribunal of Kisumu, confirmed the priest's suspension.
The church officials took issue with Fr Ogalo’s style of preaching and suspended him for a year to 'reconsider his manner of preaching.’
The rap music
The priest, 45, liked entertaining his congregation with rap music, which he said he uses to urge the youth to abandon the “evil deeds of the world and turn to Christ."
"I use the rap music to bring … youths to the church. Thereafter, I bring them to Christ," Fr Ogalo said during a recent interview.
He also said he used rap music to persuade young people to shun drugs and turn their attention to environmental and social justice issues.
Bishop Philip Anyolo, who heads the Homa Bay Diocese, said the priest has been suspended from public liturgical activities.
"It is true the church has taken a disciplinary measure against him. He is suspended because the use of rap music in preaching is not allowed," said Bishop Anyolo on Sunday.
But the bishop said Fr Ogalo has not been barred from attending church services.
"We have just stopped him from preaching using rap to accord him time to change his ways," said Bishop Anyolo.
The priest's suspension has, however, elicited sharp reaction on social media.
While some social media users support the church's decision, others argue it was dictatorial and would drive young worshippers away from the church.
Mr Charles Mulama, a Facebook user, supported the church's decision, saying rules should be obeyed.
"Catholic Church is known to be …conservative in its doctrines. The priest was wrong in introducing rap in prayer services," posted Mr Mulama.
Another Facebook user, Mr Otieno Otieno, said the church risks losing its young followers if it does not want to embrace change.
"The church should just allow Father Massa to use rap to bring more followers. The youth listen well through rap because normal preaching is boring," he posted.