Under tight security, Pope Francis left Rome for Africa this morning on what is being heralded as an important trip for relations between Catholics and Muslims across the continent.
Francis is due to arrive in the Kenyan capital Nairobi this afternoon where he will be greeted on the tarmac by Kenya’s current President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nairobi archbishop, Cardinal John Njue, plus Bishop Philip Anyolo, the president of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.
A small group of the faithful will also be there and are due to sing “Karibu Papa” to Francis, which means “Welcome, Pope” in Swahili.
After a short welcome ceremony at the airport Pope Francis will travel straight to the State House, where he will be welcomed with full military honours and a 21-gun salute.
Here he is scheduled to pay the protocol courtesy visit to the President of the Republic where he will hand him a gift from the Vatican archives. After a private meeting he will greet the president’s family before addressing political authorities and members of the diplomatic corps in English – one of the only two English discourses he is scheduled to pronounce as he makes his way through this busy six-day journey taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.
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Pope Francis will then spend the night at Nairobi’s Apostolic Nunciature before a full schedule tomorrow.
During his time in Kenya he will attend an inter-religious and ecumenical gathering and also visit a slum in Kangemi.
He then travels to Uganda on Friday where the Pope will visit the shrines of 23 Anglican and 22 Catholic martyrs who were killed in the country in the 19th century.
Francis will then travel to the Central African Republic on Sunday morning where he will spend 33 hours before travelling back to Rome.
The Tablet’s Rome correspondent Christopher Lamb is travelling with the Pope in Africa and providing regular updates. You can view the trip’s full itinerary on The Tablet by clicking here.