Pope Francis tells Kenyan audience: fight fanaticism and corruption

After being welcomed to Kasarani Stadium with rapturous singing and dancing, the Pope was cheered throughout his speech

Pope Francis in Nairobi yesterday. He will also visit Uganda and Central African Republic
Pope Francis in Nairobi yesterday. He will also visit Uganda and Central African Republic

Pope Francis scrapped his prepared speech today to urge young Kenyans not to yield to the lure of corruption and ask them to help those who are tempted by “fanatical” ideologies.

Abandoning his text, the Pope addressed a packed stadium in Nairobi with the down-to-earth and spontaneous style that has endeared him to Catholics and others around the world.

“The spirit of evil takes us to a lack of unity. It takes us to tribalism, corruption and drugs. It takes us to destruction out of fanaticism,” the Pope said, urging people not to give in to these “vices”.

“Let’s hold hands together, let’s stand up as a sign against bad tribalism,” he said, grasping the hands of two young people on stage. Tribal loyalties often trump political allegiances in Kenya, sometimes violently.

After being welcomed to Kasarani Stadium with rapturous singing and dancing, including by President Uhuru Kenyatta, his wife and the clergy, the Pope was cheered throughout his speech.

President Kenyatta reshuffled his cabinet this week as several ministers faced corruption allegations.

Men holds a portrait of Pope Francis as they gather at the Kasarani Sport Stadium in Nairobi on November 27, 2015

Corruption, said the Pope, “is like sugar: sweet. We like it; it’s easy. Also in the Vatican, there are cases of corruption.

“Please don’t develop the taste for that sugar which is called corruption.”

With Kenya the target of a number of deadly attacks by Islamist militants, the Pope called for inter-faith dialogue. He said God’s name could never be invoked to justify violence and urged world leaders to tackle climate change.

Lack of education and work was a “social danger” pushing some to radical ideologies.

“God is much stronger than any recruitment campaign,” he said, adding that youths should help potential recruits by bringing them into social groups or simply asking them “to come and watch some football. Don’t allow them to remain on their own.”

“That’s what comes to me now, spontaneously,” he said.

Francis, known as “the slum bishop” before he was Pope because of his frequent visits to Buenos Aires shanty towns, had earlier visited Nairobi’s Kangemi district, a neighbourhood of potholed roads, open sewers and rough shacks.

Addressing slum-dwellers, charity workers and clergy in a small church just a few hundred metres from smart apartments and gated residential compounds, the Pope spoke of the “dreadful injustice of urban exclusion”.

Reuters

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