Kenya urged to protect its women and nurture the youth

Pope Francis spoke out against domestic violence towards women and called on Kenyan men to resist “practices which foster arrogance.”

The pontiff also called for unity, tolerance and strengthening of family values for a better society.

He emphasised the Catholic teachings against abortion, a practice which is outlawed in Kenya except under special medical circumstances.

In a message reminiscent of US President Barack Obama’s condemnation of domestic violence in his July visit, Pope Francis singled out violence against women as one of the ills that need to be dealt with.

“In obedience to God’s word, we are also called to resist practices which hurt or demean women, and threaten the life of the innocent unborn,” he said yesterday in his homily during a Mass at the University of Nairobi sports grounds.

The Pope also spoke against the rampant materialism and greed fuelling corruption in the country.

“We are seeing the growth of new deserts created by a culture of materialism and indifference to others. Christian families have this special mission: to radiate God’s love, and to spread the life-giving waters of his Spirit,” he said.

Thousands of Christians filled Nairobi streets from as early as 3am despite the rains that pounded the city the whole night. They streamed to the venue singing hymns in readiness to celebrate the papal Mass.

The pontiff’s passion for the youth was also evident as he spoke about why society needs to invest in them.

“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,” he said.

During the Mass, he recognised that the service was being held on university grounds, where the minds of young people are shaped.

“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,” he said.

Pope Francis, who has earned a reputation for always reaching out and speaking up for the poor, urged Kenyans not to neglect the less privileged among them.

“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.”

John Cardinal Njue expressed gratitude to Pope Francis for visiting Kenya. He also thanked President Uhuru Kenyatta for ensuring the success of the Pope’s visit.