There has been widespread support for an Italian Comboni missionary who has worked in Kenya for more than 20 years after a television station published allegations that he had abused children in his care.
The Superior General of the Comboni Fathers, Fr Teresino Serra, has issued a statement expressing support for Fr Renato Kizito Sesana, in which he recalled Kizito’s "great devotion" to the missions. He expressed the congregation’s closeness to Fr Kizito “in this time of trial.”
A statement signed by the Provincial Superior, Fr Mariano Tibaldo said: "We Comboni Missionaries are shocked and saddened by the accusations against one of our own priests, Fr Renato Kizito Sesana. Fr. Kizito has been involved in many humanitarian projects for the good of the people of this country.
"We totally submit to the law of the country but we underline that no one is guilty until proven so. So let justice prevail. We likewise want to submit to the indications of the Holy See. In this difficult moment let Fr Kizito feel we are near him with brotherly care.
"We deeply regret the confusion and misunderstandings this story has caused in many of our Christians. We believe in the word of God which says, "We are well aware that God works with those who love him and turns everything to their good" (Rom. 8, 28).
"We heartily thank Religious people and Christians who have extended their words of kindness and sympathy in this difficult moment. May the Lord bless you all."According to the magazine Mondo e Missione, published by the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, Fr Kizito has been the target of "a defamation campaign begun by the privately owned Kenya Television Network (KTN)," Fr Serra said.
Former students of the Kivuli Centre founded by Fr Kizito said: ”Many of us have gone through the rehabilitation program at Kivuli and we wish to clearly state that the accusations are baseless and extremely malicious."
The Koinonia Association of Rome, which provides financial assistance, for Fr Kizito's projects, said the accusations against the priest were inexplicable and that his works in Kenya have done great good.
Young people from the Nafsi Africa Acrobats, another initiative started by Fr Kizito, sent a statement to the Kenyan media saying they felt "proud and motivated by his generous efforts" in support of those most in need and that they would continue to support him and to protest the network's defamatory reporting.
Police are investigating the allegations against the priest.