Violence and terrorism feed on “despair” which comes from poverty and frustration, Pope Francis said on his arrival in Africa.
After landing in Nairobi this afternoon, Francis travelled to State House where he addressed the country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured with the Pope above at the airport) government leaders and members of the diplomatic corps.
The country has suffered a number of terrorist attacks from Islamic militants in recent years. During his visit to Africa, his first to the continent, the Pope is seeking to bring a message of peace and reconciliation.
And in his speech Francis said that terrorism is fuelled by “fear, mistrust, and the despair born by poverty and frustration”.
He also re-iterated his view that the protection of the environment needs to take place alongside building a more “just and equitable social order”. This, the Pope explained, means combatting all divisions facing societies whether they are religious, ethnic or economic.
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“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 pass on the gifts we have received,” the Pope said.
He stressed how the values of stewardship are “deeply rooted in the African soul” adding that “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.”
His focus on the environment comes days before world leaders gather in Paris with the hope of producing an agreement to combat climate change.
Pope Francis met with journalists on the flight from Rome to Nairobi, Kenya (PA)
While the overarching theme of this trip to Africa is one of peace and reconciliation, the Pope’s time in Kenya will also be focussed on efforts to combat poverty and protect the environment.
Tomorrow he is due to give a talk at the United Nations office in Nairobi which will focus on themes contained in his encyclical on ecology, Laudato Si’.
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On Wednesday he is to visit Kangemi, a poor part of Nairobi where the Jesuits have been present for 20 years running the St Joseph the Worker parish.
The parish runs a number of development projects such as caring for women with HIV, a low cost housing programme, a school and a clinic. There are approximately 2.5 million slum dwellers in about 200 settlements in Nairobi. They represent 60 per cent of the Nairobi population and occupy just 6 per cent of the land.
On Thursday the Pope will travel to Uganda where he is to visit shrines to Anglican and Catholic martyrs, killed during the 19th century.
And on Saturday he heads to Central African Republic (CAR), a country scarred by violent conflict, where he will open the holy door at Bangui Cathedral in anticipation of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Talking to journalists aboard the Alitalia flight to Nairobi, the Pope said there was a particular reason for him visiting CAR which he would explain during the press conference on the flight back to Rome.