NAIVASHA, Kenya, AUG. 26, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The papal nuncio in Kenya is among those skeptical of the FBI report that claimed the 2000 death of Mill Hill missionary Father John Kaiser was a suicide.
Mourners who gathered Saturday at a Mass in memory of the native Minnesotan believe that the 67-year-old priest, a vocal critic of the government, had been assassinated. They demanded a full investigation by authorities.
Father Kaiser, a member of the General Council of the Mill Hill Missionaries of St. Joseph, died Aug. 24, 2000, on the road to Nakuru, about 60 kilometers (37 miles) west of Nairobi.
The Mass was celebrated in the location where Father Kaiser died — brutally slain by unidentified men, many believe. Among those attending were five local bishops, 20 priests, numerous faithful and the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Giovanni Tonucci, according to the Misna missionary agency.
The Mass honored the memory of the priest who “consistently followed the Lord,” the nuncio said.
Archbishop Tonucci also recalled Father Kaiser’s extraordinary testimony in favor of the poor, and said that the deceased suffered from “a second death” through those who besmirched “his credibility.”
In late April, Kenya’s bishops called for an inquest into the priest’s death, saying that the FBI’s theory of a suicide, caused by a state of depression, was too flawed.
Archbishop Tonucci said the theory is unacceptable. “I do not believe; we do not believe,” the nuncio said.
He also affirmed that injustices continue in the Eastern African nation and that there is a need to protect human dignity through the “reorganization of institutions and the fight against corruption.”
At the end of the Mass, the president of the Kenyan episcopal conference, Bishop John Njue, stressed that the people “have the right to know the truth on the case of Father Kaiser” and that “there is the impression that somebody important has something to hide.”
Father Michael Corcoran, deputy provincial of the Mill Hill Missionaries in Kenya, requested that “the truth about the murder of Father Kaiser be found as soon as possible, in respect of his memory and for the poor that he always defended.”
The celebration, which opened with the procession from the Church of St. Francis Xavier in Naivasha to the site where Father Kaiser died, ended with a thanksgiving hymn, sung by Eric Wainaina, a well-known Kenyan performer, who affirmed “the truth cannot die.”