Pope Francis in Kenya: Tens of thousands attend rain soaked Mass

Pope Francis takes Mass in Nairobi
Pope Francis takes Mass in Nairobi

Pope Francis is celebrating Mass with tens of thousands of people on the campus of the University of Nairobi.

He arrived in Kenya yesterday (Wednesday 25), on the first leg of his three-nation tour, and was welcomed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, one of the 30% baptised Catholics in the country, at the airport.

Kenyans have been waiting in the rain at the University of Nairobi sports ground since the early hours of Thursday morning with a crowd of more than one million expected to attend Mass.

Ahead of the Mass, the Pope met with religious leaders, who he said should be “prophets of peace” in a violent and hate-driven world.

He had earlier said conflict and terrorism fed “on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration”, but played down security fears about his trip, joking that he was “more worried about the mosquitoes.”

A leading Kenyan Muslim cleric welcomed the visit, saying it gave hope to the “downtrodden in the slums”.

According to the BBC’s religious affairs correspondent, Caroline Wyatt, Pope Francis is expected to urge world leaders to work together towards the common good, rather than selfishly, ahead of environment talks in Paris next week, in a speech later today (Thursday 26 November).

“All men and women of goodwill are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing.”

– Pope Francis, speaking at a function hosted by President Kenyatta in State House last night.

During his address in Stet House last night, Pope Francis also warned of the “grave environmental crisis” facing the world, and said leaders needed to promote “responsible models of economic development”.

He also made a subtle reference to corruption by calling on leaders to work with integrity and transparency.

President Kenyatta, who sacked six ministers following allegations of corruption in the government on Wednesday, called on the Pope to pray that Kenya succeeds in its fight against corruption.

In celebration of the Papal visit, an atheist group had said it would challenge in court a government decision to declare today a national holiday in honour of the pontiff.

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