Catholic Church St Joseph in Meru Diocese might be forced to wait for 15 years before they can bury the late Bishop Emeritus Silas Njiru who succumbed to Covid-19 in Turin, Italy in April.
This comes after the Italian authorities prohibited airlifting or cremation of the body as a result of COVID-19 protocols.
According to the representatives of the church, the initial plan was to have the body repatriated so as they can conduct internment in line with Catholic Church traditions of burying their bishops in crypts below the cathedrals they served.
Having been the first African bishop of Meru Diocese, the church had expected to get a chance to view his body and accord him a proper send-off which would be a burial in a stone chamber beneath the floor of the church he had served since 1976.
According to a report by the standard, the diocese of Meru, the church was dealt a blow after the Italian authorities ruled out bringing back Njiru’s remains stating that they would have to wait until 2035.
“We were very keen to bring the bishop to the seat of the diocese–the cathedral where he should rest alongside his predecessor, Bishop Lawrence Victor Bessone,” said Father David Kaberia, who is in charge of the Meru Cathedral parish. “But the Italian Covid-19 protocols prohibit either the airlifting of the body or cremation until 15 years lapse.”
Following this move, the Catholic Church in Kenya had to agree to temporary internment of the bishop and wrote to Consolata Missionaries Superior and the Holy See in Rome through Bishop Salesius Mugambi.
It is however unclear whether the Church after the 15-year lapse will organize for another burial of the remains in Kenya as this is yet to be communicated.
On May 5th 15 people mostly Catholic clergy, attended the Meru memorial service in honor of Njiru, and later a larger crowd graced his memorial service at his birthplace in Kevote in Embu Parish.