, NAIROBI, September 7 – The canonisation of the late Maurice Cardinal Otunga formally kicked off on Saturday, on the 5th anniversary of his death, with a call for petitions from members of the Catholic Church.
John Cardinal Njue said the procedure is for worshippers to send a petition, after which he would name a team of theologians to examine the life of Cardinal Otunga.
He said: “The investigation may open no sooner than five years after the death but there are exemptions like in the case of Mother Teresa. But I would like to assure everyone that we are on time and there is no delay”.
The Pope has the authority to waive this five-year waiting period, as was done for Mother Teresa by Pope John Paul II and for John Paul II himself by his immediate successor, Benedict XVI.
Normally, a guild or organisation to promote the cause of the sainthood is created, an exhaustive search of the candidate’s writings, speeches and sermons is undertaken, a detailed biography is written and eyewitness accounts are gathered.
“Once they have all the documentation ready, they will combine it in a document known as liberus, and Rome (The Vatican) will look at it step by step. If there are indications that things are okay the beatification will then be done,” said Cardinal Njue.
At the memorial service, held at Resurrection Garden in Ngong’, long time friend and retired Mombasa Archbishop John Njenga remembered the late Cardinal as a man who was caring and concerned for the welfare of the poor.
“He was indeed meek and humble and continued to be so even when I met him as a bishop and sometime as a Cardinal where I would tell him ‘Your Eminence, why don’t you just forget about things and be human’,” Njenga told believers who turned up to mark the anniversary.
At the same time, the Cardinal renewed the debate over the proposed Reproductive Rights Bill which seeks to legalise the abortion by calling on the Muslim community to add their voice to the opposition of the law.
He said: “Life is sacred, life comes from God and no one apart from God is allowed to interfere with the life. And that is why capital punishment should not be allowed.”
Otunga said that all religious groups shared in the opinion that life was sacred and should be protected as was shown during the 2005 National Referendum on the Proposed Draft Constitution.
He claimed that the proposal to legalise abortion was a western ideal that was being pushed by countries whose moral culture is questionable.
Njue appealed to Kenyans not to accept the proposal: “Mothers, you are women by God’s design you should be proud of that never allow yourselves to be reduced to murderers. Imagine that your womb is being prepared to be a slaughter house.”