Catholic church raises Sh124 million ahead of pontiff’s visit

By: NGARE KARIUKI

More than Sh124 million was raised on Friday night during a dinner party held in preparation for the upcoming papal visit.

The Catholic Church also appealed for more donations with just 18 days to go before Pope Francis lands in Kenya on his maiden tour of Africa.

Retired President Mwai Kibaki, who presided over the ceremony, urged Kenyans to use the visit as a turning point and start working together to reunite the country.

“This exceptional visit by Pope Francis presents us with a unique opportunity to appreciate our country, region and continent afresh. This is an opportunity to appreciate our motherland and reaffirm our common destiny,” Mr Kibaki said.

“As we whine, shove and push, it is always proper to endeavour to harness the many blessings that decorate our horizon. We must learn to listen to each other and work with one another closely,” he said.

While appreciating the existing diversity in the country due to the different ethnic groups and Kenyans, Mr Kibaki chose the occasion to remind Kenyans that they belong to one country.

Cardinal John Njue, who was the host, said that the success of the Pope’s visit will be determined by the combined efforts of generous Kenyans.

“The local Catholic Church was not able to shoulder the heavy budgetary needs alone. But we are grateful for those who have stepped up especially the government and corporates,” he said.

VISIT SPONSORS

Co-operative Bank, Airtel Kenya, Equity Bank, Britam, Brookside Dairy and Sameer Africa are some of the corporates that have offered to sponsor the visit.

The Vatican’s ambassador to Kenya and South Sudan Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo said the Pope has a special message for Kenya and the continent, and that Kenyans should be expectant.

“He has already been to a number of countries and continents and had a unique message for each of them. Kenya will not be any different,” he said.

Cardinal Njue noted that the Pope’s choice to visit the Kangemi slum is consistent with his pattern associating himself with the poor.

“In his recent visit to the US, the Pope was seen traveling in a small Fiat car. He also gave up his prestigious residence at the Vatican. This pattern clearly shows that his heart is for the poor,” he said.

Pope Francis will arrive on November 25 and will over the next two days address Kenyans at various venues including University of Nairobi, Safaricom Kasarani Stadium and the Kangemi slums.

He is also expected to address other religious leaders as part of his mission to preach tolerance and peaceful co-existence.

Cardinal Njue said the organisers are aiming to raise Sh200 million.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION