Catholic Church sus­pends Kenyan priest for rap­ping while preach­ing

Sunday Express - - ENTERTAINMENT -

NAIROBI — The white robe came off, and the red ban­danna came on. And then the Rev. Paul Ogalo emerged in front of his open-air con­gre­ga­tion with a mi­cro­phone.

The Catholic priest started rap­ping and the nuns started danc­ing. Ev­ery­one from teenage boys to mid­dle-aged women, dressed in their Sun­day best, cir­cled around Ogalo as he waved his hands and kicked his feet and spread the gospel in a string of rap verses to the beat of drums, all in his na­tive lan­guage.

It was May 6 and Ogalo - or Sweet Paul, as his fans call him - had re­cently be­come a vi­ral sen­sa­tion. Some­body had posted a video of him rap­ping on so­cial me­dia — that time while wear­ing both his white robe and red ban­danna at once - and in­stantly it seemed all the church­go­ers in Kenya wanted to know who this rap­ping priest was. So on May 6, Ogalo in­vited news crews to come and to find out.

“Usu­ally I do this thing sep­a­rately. Liturgy re­mains liturgy. And then the en­ter­tain­ment re­mains sep­a­rate so that I at­tract the young peo­ple to come to church,” Ogalo told Kenya’s NTV that day. “I use that as a way to bring them to church and cat­e­chize them and make them pro­duc­tive cit­i­zens of the na­tion and the Catholic Church. That is my mis­sion.”

But while Sweet Paul may have been a hit with the youth, the Catholic Church was ap­par­ently not pleased.

Bishop Philip Any­olo, of the Catholic Dio­cese of Homa Bay, con­firmed to a num­ber of Kenyan and in­ter­na­tional news out­lets this week that the church sus­pended Ogalo from lead­ing mass for one year be­cause “the use of rap mu­sic in preach­ing is not al­lowed,” as he told Kenya’s Nairobi News. For the du­ra­tion of his sus­pen­sion, Any­olo said Ogalo will still be al­lowed to at­tend mass at his parish, St. Mon­ica Catholic Church in Ra­pogi.

“We have just stopped him from preach­ing us­ing rap to ac­cord him time to change his ways,” the bishop told Nairobi News.

The Rev. Charles Kochiel, the ju­di­cial vicar of the in­ter-dioce­san tri­bunal of Kisumu, told the Catholic News Ser­vice that there are “cer­tain things the church pro­motes in the so­ci­ety.”

“If we mix . . . what the sec­u­lar and church in­sti­tu­tions do,” he said, “then def­i­nitely peo­ple are go­ing to read dif­fer­ent mes­sages.”

In an in­ter­view with BBC last month, Ogalo said he was in­spired to

REV. Paul Ogalo emerged in front of his open-air con­gre­ga­tion with a mi­cro­phone.

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