Pope in Kenya calls for just distribution of natural and human, care for our common home, and commitment to the common good

November 25, 2015

“Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration,” said Pope Francis in his first speech in Kenya.  He addressed President Uhruru Kenyatta and the country’s authorities gathered under a big marquee in Nairobi’s State House garden.  “The struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity,” Francis added, “must be carried on by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation.”

Francis, who gave his speech in English, recalled that Kenya has been blessed not only with immense beauty, in its mountains, rivers and lakes, its forests, savannahs and semi-deserts, but also by an abundance of natural resources. The Kenyan people have a strong appreciation of these God-given treasures and are known for a culture of conservation which does you honour. The grave environmental crisis facing our world demands an ever greater sensitivity to the relationship between human beings and nature. We have a responsibility to pass on the beauty of nature in its integrity to future generations, and an obligation to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received.” His words anticipated the themes to be discussed at the nearing climate change conference in Paris. “In a world which continues to exploit rather than protect our common home, they must inspire the efforts of national leaders to promote responsible models of economic development,” Francis went on to say.

“In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just andequitable social order. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself.”

The Pope then spoke about Africa’s problems. “To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic,” he said, “all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing. In the work of building a sound democratic order, strengthening cohesion and integration, tolerance and respect for others, the pursuit of the common good must be a primary goal.”

Francis concluded the first speech of his African visit by calling on the ruling class of Kenya “to protect” young people “invest in them” and encouraged them “to work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society. I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country.”

In his welcoming speech, the Kenyan president said: “I was also educated in a Catholic school,” recalling that the Church was and continues to be a “strong partner of the State in the country’s social and economic development”. Kenyatta also assured: “We want to overcome the vice of corruption and the illegal profits made from environmental exploitation”. He concluded by asking the Pope to pray for him and for Kenya.

Before meeting the country’s authorities, the Pope visited Kenyatta, signed the Golden Book and held a private meeting with the president. At the same time, a bilateral meeting took place between the Vatican and Kenyan delegations, attended by the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Cross-posted from the Vatican Insider:  http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/44871/