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Pope Mass in Kenya: Stand firm in faith

(Vatican Radio) On the first full day of his visit to Kenya, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Nairobi University. During his homily, which he gave on a specially constructed alter on the campus grounds, the Pope stressed the importance of the family noting that, "Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children.  The health of any society depends on the health of its families."

The Holy Father also had a special appeal for the young people of Kenya, saying, " I appeal in a special way to the young people of the nation.  Let the great values of Africa’s traditions, the wisdom and truth of God’s word, and the generous idealism of your youth guide you in working to shape a society which is ever more just, inclusive and respectful of human dignity.  May you always be concerned for the needs of the poor, and reject everything that leads to prejudice and discrimination, for these things, we know, are not of God."

The Pope urged the those gathered at the Mass, to  “Stand strong in faith! and not to be afraid, telling them that the Lord "asks us to be missionary disciples, men and women who radiate the truth, beauty and life-changing power of the Gospel."  

The head of Vatican Radio's English Africa section, Fr. Paul Samasumo is with Pope Francis in Africa and sent this report on the Mass.


Not even the rains could dampen the mood of Kenyans. Throngs of Catholics and non-Catholics started gathering at the Nairobi university Campus as early as 3 am in the morning, in order to have a good view of proceedings. The Mass started at 10 am and lasted roughly an hour and forty five minutes.

Pope Francis looked mesmerised by the energetic choreography of the children as they performed  the liturgical dance at various parts of the Mass. The choir was on its feet throughout the Mass. It was a choir of children, the youth and elderly.

Kenyan media said that the three hundred thousand capacity Nairobi University campus grounds was filled and overflowing.  Thousands other Kenyans lined up the streets in the vicinity awaiting a glimpse of Pope Francis. In a country where one out of every three persons is a baptised Catholic, this is understandable. The Government honoured the day by declaring a public holiday.

During the Mass, Pope Francis demonstrated a certain proficiency in the English language never before witnessed. He confidently celebrated the entire Mass with little hesitation. At the end of the homily, Pope Francis even blessed Kenyans in KiSwahili telling Kenyans not to be afraid. “Stand strong in faith. Do not to fear anything… Mungu abariki Kenya,” May God bless Kenya, he said.

Travelling on the Apostolic journey with Pope Francis in Africa, I am Fr. Paul Samasumo.   

(from Vatican Radio)

Address of Pope Francis to religious leaders

Pope Francis met Thursday with the leaders of various fairth groups in Nairobi as part of his pastoral visit to Africa.

Please find below the full English text of the address which was delivered in Italian:

Address of His Holiness Pope Francis
at the Ecumenical and Interreligious Meeting

Apostolic Nunciature, Nairobi

Thursday 26 November 2015

Dear Friends,

I am grateful for your presence this morning and for the opportunity to share these moments of reflection with you.  In a particular way, I wish to thank Archbishop Wabukala and Professor El-Busaidy for their words of welcome offered on your behalf, and on behalf of their communities.  It is always important to me that, when I come to visit the Catholic faithful of a local Church, I have an occasion to meet the leaders of other Christian communities and religious traditions.  It is my hope that our time together may be a sign of the Church’s esteem for the followers of all religions; may it strengthen the bonds of friendship which we already enjoy.

To be honest, this relationship is challenging; it makes demands of us.  Yet ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury.  It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs. 

Indeed, religious beliefs and practice condition who we are and how we understand the world around us.  They are for us a source of enlightenment, wisdom and solidarity, and thus enrich the societies in which we live.  By caring for the spiritual growth of our communities, by forming minds and hearts in the truths and values taught by our religious traditions, we become a blessing to the communities in which our people live.  In democratic and pluralistic societies like Kenya, cooperation between religious leaders and communities becomes an important service to the common good.

In this light, and in an increasingly interdependent world, we see ever more clearly the need for interreligious understanding, friendship and collaboration in defending the God-given dignity of individuals and peoples, and their right to live in freedom and happiness.  By upholding respect for that dignity and those rights, the religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling in the young the profound spiritual values of our respective traditions, and training good citizens, capable of infusing civil society with honesty, integrity and a world view which values the human person over power and material gain.

Here I think of the importance of our common conviction that the God whom we seek to serve is a God of peace.  His holy Name must never be used to justify hatred and violence.  I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds.  All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.  How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!  May the Almighty touch the hearts of those who engage in this violence, and grant his peace to our families and communities.

Dear friends, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, at which the Catholic Church committed herself to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.  I wish to reaffirm this commitment, which is born of our conviction of the universality of God’s love and the salvation which he offers to all.  The world rightly expects believers to work together with people of good will in facing the many problems affecting our human family.  As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences.  Let us pray for peace!

I thank you for your attention, and I ask Almighty God to grant to you and your communities his abundant blessings.

(from Vatican Radio)

In Kenya, Pope calls for peace, reconciliation

(Vatican Radio) After a brief but vibrant welcome ceremony at the airport and a private colloquium with Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Pope Francis immediately delivered a wide ranging and hard-hitting discourse to political and civil authorities and to members of the diplomatic corps, a discourse that – as Holy See Press Office Director Father Lombardi pointed out during the evening media briefing – was really a discourse to all the people of Kenya.

It contained many of the themes that he is expected to address during this 6-day African journey. It featured his concern for the youth who represent the future and are – he said – the most valuable resource of the nation; it highlighted his belief that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration; it voiced his appeal to men and women of goodwill and to political leaders to work for reconciliation, peace, forgiveness and healing; and - above all – it spoke of the grave environmental crisis facing our world and of the urgent need to take responsibility for creation and to exercise a just stewardship of the gifts we have received.

Afterwards, as he travelled in an open pope-mobile to the Nairobi Nunciature to rest for the night, he was blessed by the opening of the African skies and a downpour fit for a Pope.

His first appointment on Thursday morning was an ecumenical and interreligious meeting. It was a particularly important moment in a nation as multi-cultural as is Kenya and where different religious communities and religions play a pivotal role in shaping a peaceful, free and democratic society. To the leaders of different Christian confessions and other faiths he reiterated his firm belief that religions play an essential role in forming consciences, instilling profound spiritual values and training good citizens dedicated to the common good.

He also recalled the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to ecumenical and interreligious dialogue in the service of understanding and friendship.

"As we look to the future," Pope Francis concluded, "let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences."

“Let us pray for peace!”


(Linda Bordoni is reporting from Nairobi.)


(from Vatican Radio)

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Pope Francis addresses Kenya's leaders

(Vatican Radio) Following a twenty-one gun salute, Pope Francis addressed the President of Kenya and other authorities at Nairobi State House on Wednesday afternoon. The Holy Father said he was looking forward to his stay, especially meeting the young people of Kenya and “encouraging their hopes and aspirations for the future”.

Click below to hear the Holy Father's address, delivered in English

The Pope proceeded to urge the entire Kenyan people to “work with integrity and transparency for the common good, and to foster a spirit of solidarity at every level of society”, asking them to hold particular concern for the poor, the young and to handle their natural and human resources responsibly. He concluded by speaking about a Kenyan tradition where young children plant trees for posterity: “may this eloquent sign of hope in the future… sustain all of you…”.

Please find below the full text of Pope Francis’ prepared remarks for his address to the authorities and the Diplomatic Corps at the State House in Nairobi on Wednesday 25th November 2015


Mr President,

Honourable Government and Civil Leaders,

Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

My Brother Bishops,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

            I am most grateful for your warm welcome on this, my first visit to Africa.  I thank you, Mr President, for your kind words in the name of the Kenyan people, and I look forward to my stay among you.  Kenya is a young and vibrant nation, a richly diverse society which plays a significant role in the region.  In many ways your experience of shaping a democracy is one shared by many other African nations.  Like Kenya, they too are working to build, on the solid foundations of mutual respect, dialogue and cooperation, a multiethnic society which is truly harmonious, just and inclusive.

            Yours too is a nation of young people.  In these days, I look forward to meeting many of them, speaking with them, and encouraging their hopes and aspirations for the future.  The young are any nation’s most valuable resource.  To protect them, to invest in them and to offer them a helping hand, is the best way we can ensure a future worthy of the wisdom and spiritual values dear to their elders, values which are the very heart and soul of a people.

            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.  These values are deeply rooted in the African soul.  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.

            In effect, there is a clear link between the protection of nature and the building of a just and equitable social order.  There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature, without a renewal of humanity itself (cf. Laudato Si’, 118).  To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, 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.  Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration.  Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity 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.

            Ladies and Gentlemen, the advancement and preservation of these great values is entrusted in a special way to you, the leaders of your country’s political, cultural and economic life.  This is a great responsibility, a true calling, in the service of the entire Kenyan people.  The Gospel tells us that from those to whom much has been given, much will be demanded (Lk 12:48).  In that spirit, I encourage you 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.  I assure you of the continued efforts of the Catholic community, through its educational and charitable works, to offer its specific contribution in these areas.

            Dear friends, I am told that here in Kenya it is a tradition for young schoolchildren to plant trees for posterity.  May this eloquent sign of hope in the future, and trust in the growth which God gives, sustain all of you in your efforts to cultivate a society of solidarity, justice and peace on the soil of this country and throughout the great African continent.  I thank you once more for your warm welcome, and upon you and your families, and all the beloved Kenyan people, I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings.

            Mungu abariki Kenya!          

            God bless Kenya!


(from Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis: gift of Bernini drawing to Kenya's President

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis gave a drawing by architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini, of the project for the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, to the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, on Wednesday. The Holy Father conveyed the present during the course of his meeting with Kenyatta in Kenya, at the beginning of a three-country visit to the continent of Africa that is to include Kenya, Uganda, and the Central African Republic.

Below, please find the official description of the drawing


Gian Lorenzo Bernini (Naples 1598 – Rome 1680)

Project for the Bell towers of St. Peter’s Basilica

Pen and wash drawing in brown and gray on ivory paper


The accurate drawing, identified as an autograph of Bernini by Brauer and Wittkower in 1931, depicts the project for the façade of the Basilica of St. Peter according to the idea of Carlo Maderno, but with the variation of two tall bell towers that departed directly from the ground.

The final project by Maderno called for two bell towers at the two extremities of the façade, but positioned at the height of the base of the drum of the dome.

The execution of the work was assigned to Bernini who began around 1637. In 1641, upon completion of the first bell tower, it was necessary to partially demolish it for reasons of statics. The artist was bitterly criticized for having underestimated the risks and endangering the entire Basilica. The disappointment was such that he fell ill, also for fear of losing the trust of the Pontiff.

In 1646, under Pope Innocent X Pamphili, a special Congregation of Cardinals was instituted to face the problem of the façade, and the greatest architects present in Rome were called upon to present their proposals. In spite of the efforts undertaken, the graphic documentation and the engravings that pictured the façade with the bell towers, these were no longer executed and, in 1646, with the parts of Bernini’s first bell tower extant, they were completely demolished.

These projects are for the most part today kept in the Vatican Apostolic Library, under the codice from which this present sheet was drawn.

(from Vatican Radio)

Kenyans await Pope's message of peace and reconciliation

(Vatican Radio) “It is quite an exciting moment for us. The Holy Father is coming for the first time to Africa, and he chose Kenya as his entrance door.” Ahead of Pope Francis’ arrival in Nairobi on Wednesday, Kenyans shared their hopes and expectations for the papal visit.

Lily Mugombozi is a journalist working for New City Africa, the magazine of the Focolare movement, and will be following every moment of the Pope’s journey.  Just like any other person in this country, I really feel blessed and privileged. She spoke with Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni.


“I think God has great things for us,” she said. “First of all, we see Pope Francis as a leader of the world, not only for Catholics, and this is really striking. Last Saturday I participated in a radio program, where some youth were introducing what they are doing, what their preparations for the Holy Father entail. And during the call-in program I was very struck by non-Catholics who were calling in the studio to assure their support for the Holy Father, their joy, and some were saying the Holy Father is a Father to everyone, not only to Catholics.”

Another issue, she said is reconciliation. Mugombozi noted that Pope Francis emphasized the message of reconciliation in his video message to the people of Kenya and Uganda. “I watched his message on Youtube, and he really stresses this, that he hopes that his presence among us will also be a sign of reconciliation. He will speak of reconciliation, and we really do need this in Kenya.” She said she expects the Pope’s message of reconciliation and peace will remain even after Pope Francis concludes his visit. 

(from Vatican Radio)

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Kenya: Maasai designs and beads for Pope Francis’s vestments

(Vatican Radio) A well-researched article in the Kenyan daily press gives an accurate “dress-down” of some of the garments you would find in Pope Francis’ wardrobe.

What it doesn’t mention is that here in Kenya all of his vestments and a beautiful rosary made of beads have been prepared by a group of sisters and women who work in an income-generating facility in Kangemi slum called “Dolly Craft”.

Click below to hear the report from Vatican Radio's special envoy in Kenya, Linda Bordoni

The sewery – which gets its name from its initial project of making African dolls –  is operated by the Jesuit-run St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Kangemi slum. It has been working full steam to prepare the vestments not only for Pope Francis, but also for all the priests and bishops who will be celebrating Mass here in Nairobi.

One of the priests at the Parish told me that for their special project, the women took design samples they made to the bishops in charge of the preparations for Pope Francis’ visit. The bishops approved the designs and gave the women a logo to include on the three vestments.

He explained the women designed three garments for the pope's main functions while he's in Kenya: a simple white ankle-length alb, a classic golden sleeveless chasuble, and a white chasuble embroidered with a Maasai tribe design in coloured beads which have been hand-woven into the cloth itself.

The women working on the project – he said – were overjoyed to be playing such a tangible part in Pope Francis’ visit and have been working around the clock to make sure the vestments were ready in time.

“It feels so good”, Alice Wanjiru, a single mother of two boys who works at the project  told a local newspaper:  “It is my first time and probably my last to make a garment for a Pope. . . . and very few people get a chance like this. The pope – she said - is a big person to wear what has been made with my hands. I can already feel the blessings”.

(from Vatican Radio)