POPE JOHN PAUL II TO KENYA FOR THE CELEBRATION PHASE OF THE AFRICAN SYNOD
1. I give thanks to almighty God in whose wonderful Providence I am able to return for the third time to beautiful Kenya. I thank you, Mr. President, for your kind words of welcome. I greet the civil authorities whose presence I see as a sign of friendship and of our shared desire to serve the well-being of all Kenyans. With heartfelt esteem I greet the whole nation: all its peoples in rich variety of their origin and culture. With gratitude for the warmth of your traditional hospitality, I say: Wananchi wote, wananchi wote wapenzi, (Dear people, my dearest people!).
2. My present journey through Africa is a celebration of the Special Session for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. That important meeting re-affirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to her spiritual and humanitarian mission on this continent. As the universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I wished to come to Africa at this time in order to urge my brothers and sisters in the faith to stand steadfast in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and to assume with unfailing generosity the challenge which the Synod proposes: a new evangelisation, in a fresh spirit of service to the peoples of this continent. It is my special joy therefore to greet Cardinal Otunga and my brother Bishops of Kenya, as well as the representatives of the Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa. I especially look forward to joining the clergy, religious and laity in the most sacred act of our worship, the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
3. I come as a friend of Kenya: as one who is close to the aspirations, trials and successes of all Kenyans, without distinction.
In fulfilling her spiritual mission, the Church fosters and defends the dignity, freedom and advancement of the human person. She does so concretely through her many schools and educational projects, through her charitable, healthcare and social institutions, through all her efforts to promote social progress. The Church in Kenya under the leadership of the Bishops, has a solid history of service to the common good, and I am certain that for the benefit of the nation everyone will wish to increase the level of mutual trust and co-operation.
4. Dear Friends, I am fully conscious of the importance which Kenya, and Nairobi in particular, have as a centre of trade, communications, education and culture, and as the location of many international organisations and agencies for all of Africa. I come as one who is deeply concerned for the destiny of Africa's peoples. Africa is at a cross-roads. Its peoples and their leaders are being called to exercise all their wisdom in the difficult and urgent task of promoting a development which is not just economic and material, but involves building a civilisation of respect for all of society's members - for their rights and freedoms, as well as for the spiritual nature of every person; a civilisation founded on the best traditions of this continent, which emphasise people over things, a civilisation which nurtures understanding, harmony and co-operation, not divisive tendencies. Social unity and solidarity are not easy at the best of times. They are made all the more difficult when ethnic, political and social divisions are allowed to smother the yearning for true peace which lies in peoples' hearts.
The Church is an ally of all who work for a better Africa. She will continue to teach the ways of harmony and peace, for the Gospel says: "Blessed are the peacemakers" (cf. Mt. 5,9). She will do all she can to defend the poor, the weak and those who are without voice, for "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right" (Mt. 5,6). The Synod for Africa, which I am here to celebrate, is a providential gift to the Church and to the whole of African society. The Synod calls the Church to strengthen in all Africans the hope of genuine liberation. Our confidence that this is possible is based on God's promise, which assures us that our present history is not closed in upon itself but is open to God's transforming grace and love (cf. EA 14).
Invoking his abundant blessings upon you all, I thank you for your gracious welcome.
I am very, very grateful for this wonderful, heartfelt and very cordial reception. Thank you very much.
"Let us praise the Lord, the source of life"
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
1. Last year, the Special Session for Africa of the Synod of Bishops held its working session in Rome, close to the tomb of the Apostle Peter. Now, a year later, the results of the Synod have been gathered in the Post-Synodal Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, and the Successor of Peter commends to the Church in Africa to encourage everyone to heed the Synod's message and put it into practice. I gladly greed my dear brother, Cardinal Otunga, and the members of the Kenya Episcopal Conference, as well as the Bishops of the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences of Eastern Africa. I greet the priests, deacons, seminarians, the religious sisters and brothers, the lay men and women, young and old alike. I extend a cordial welcome to the members of the other Christian denominations and the followers of other religious traditions. I extend a special greeting to His Excellency the President as well as to the other authorities of city and State for their welcome presence.
With heartfelt gratitude to God I am making this journey through Africa. Each stage of this journey of celebration emphasises one or other of the guiding themes of the Synod: at Yaoundé in Cameroon, the vital question of the evangelisation of culture and inculturation; at Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa, the question of peace and justice in society and in the Church; and now here in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, we direct our attention to the agents of evangelisation, and especially the family.
2. "Praised be the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 1,3).
With these words from the Letter to the Ephesians this whole Eucharistic Assembly turns to the Father, to whom the Church prays each day with the words of the Lord's prayer. We turn to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him, the Eternal Word, Africa - the continent of families, races and peoples - like the whole of human history, is brought into God's eternal plan realised in Christ, the only-begotten son, born of the Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Our hearts turn to the Father who, in Christ, has bestowed on us every spiritual blessing, choosing us in him before the world began, and predestining us in love, through Christ, to be his own adopted children (cf. Eph. 1,4-5). Because of the son's unfailing love for us, we have been redeemed and our sins have been forgiven through his blood. Therefore we say: "forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us".
The Crucified and Risen Lord has become the Head of the Church, his Mystical Body, which makes its pilgrim way to the fullness of time, the final coming when the whole of creation will be filled with the glory of the living God. This is the faith we profess each day in the Eucharist, when we say after the consecration: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again.
3. I ardently wish to associate with this Eucharistic celebration here in Nairobi, the whole great family of the peoples of Africa, beginning with the people of Kenya.
Christ is our peace! People of Kenya, never tire of praying for peace and of working for peace.
I wish to gather around this altar the peoples of Cameroon and the Republic of South Africa, from where I have just come; the peoples of Zaire, still striving for a democratic recomposition of their differences, and those of Congo; those of Malawi and Mozambique, of Zambia and Zimbabwe, of Lesotho and Swaziland, of Botswana and Namibia. I invite to this altar the peoples of Angola, afflicted by long years of civil war. I call the peoples of Senegal, of Cape Verde, Sao Tome and Principe, the peoples of the region of the Sahel, of Burkina Faso, of Niger, of Mali and Mauritania.
I call Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria - predominantly Muslim countries but which have known a Christian presence from the earliest times. I call the Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin; the Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Moving towards the centre of Africa, I invite the numerous peoples of Nigeria, with its nearly one hundred million inhabitants; the Central African Republic, and Uganda of the Martyrs. I call Egypt, Libya, and the Sudan, where a few years ago I honoured the relics of Blessed Josephine Bakhita, sold as a young girl on the slave-markets. After being ransomed, she was baptised and became a Religious. She lived an exemplary life, and was raised to the altars to become the heavenly patroness of her troubled land of origin, heavenly patroness of The Sudan.
I call the peoples of Burundi and of Rwanda. I have vivid memories of my visits to those beautiful countries in times of peace, while today all of us, with sorrow, with concern, think of the terrible ethnic war still smouldering there after swallowing up so many innocent victims. During the African Synod we, the Pastors of the Church, felt obliged to express our distress, our concern and to appeal for forgiveness and reconciliation, which is the only way to scatter the menacing clouds of ethno-centricity hanging over Africa, which in recent times have descended so brutally on Rwanda and Burundi.
To this great Eucharistic Assembly I call the peoples of Chad, and of the ancient land of Ethiopia, who have attended the second part of today's liturgy with us, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti. Our thoughts then go to Tanzania, at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro. I greet Madagascar and the Islands of the Indian Ocean, with the peoples of both African and Indian extraction: Mauritius, Réunion, The Seychelles and the Comoros.
4. In the past I have been able to visit most of these countries, meeting the great African family of peoples. Where it has not yet been possible I hope some day to go. The question is often asked: Why does the Pope visit Africa so often? One reason stands out: Africa is the continent of the family, and the future of the Church's evangelising mission passes through the family.
At the highest point of his creative work, God called man into existence; "male and female he created them" (Gen. 1,27). The Book of Genesis goes on to say: "A man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife, and they become one body" (Gen. 2,24). Through the union of husband and wife, the miracle of creation is renewed over and over again; the miracle by which the Creator calls into life a new being, made in his own image and likeness. The married couple, man and woman, united before God, form a singular unity which must be permanent and indissoluble if the family is to become a true community of life and love, it is to guarantee the future of its children, if it is to be the "domestic Church" and the principal place of evangelisation, as called for by the African Synod.
The family is fundamental in Africa! African society is deeply rooted in the family! This is a treasure which must be preserved and never underestimated, since every weakening of the family is the source of intractable problems. It a utilitarian and materialistic notion of the family prevails, its members tend to have expectations and make individualistic demands which sunder its unity and its capacity to build harmony and educate in solidarity. On the contrary, where the family is seen as a value in itself, the members realise that their personal good coincides with their duty to love, respect and help each other. Their affective bonding and mutual support help them to face all kinds of challenges together and to overcome many difficult moments.
5. Cana in Galilee tells us about the family and evangelisation. Jesus went there with his Mother and the Apostles for a wedding feast. When his Mother pointed out that there was no more wine, he changed the water into wine. Mary played a special part in this first miracle of Jesus. Her maternal sensitivity wanted to save the couple from shame, for she knew that her Son would not let her down. So she says to the waiters: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn. 2,5). Jesus orders them to fill the jars with water, and to take some to the steward. When the steward had tasted it, he called the bridegroom and said: "People generally serve the best wine first, and keep the cheaper sort till the guests have had plenty to drink; but you have kept the best wine till now" (Jn. 2,10). What is indeed striking about this passage is the very fact that the Lord started his messianic activity from the family.
Cana in Galilee tells us that the family is the first place of evangelisation. It tells us that while both parents are responsible in all things for the family, it is the mother who is generally the first evangeliser. It was Mary who declared: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn. 2,5). Experience shows that it is often Christian mothers who are the first to teach the truth about God, the first to join their children's hands in prayer and to pray with them. Mothers teach their children to distinguish good from evil. They teach them the commandments of God, both the commandments given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, and the commandments of love of God and love of neighbour which Jesus put at the heart of Christian moral life. The magnificent vocation and responsibility of parents, and in the first place of mothers, consists not only in bringing children into the world, but also in leading them to spiritual maturity. The family is the natural environment in which this task can be fulfilled. The educational role of the family is never easy, but it is always a sublime and noble human enterprise.
Even before parishes and schools, mothers and fathers are the teachers of the Beatitudes enunciated in today's Gospel. The Beatitudes are the full programme of the Christian life: of life in spirit and in truth (cf. Jn. 4,23). They teach us to show mercy, to preserve purity of heart, to love one another and build peace. They teach poverty of spirit, which is a person's greatest wealth. They teach us to console the afflicted; to hunger and thirst for what is right. They teach us meekness, which is that inner silence which gives us control of ourselves and of our circumstances. Likewise, the Beatitudes teach us to suffer persecution for the sake of justice. This is the last of those who journey towards the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, where God will wipe away all tears from our eyes (cf. Rev. 21,4). For this reason, Jesus says: "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven" (Mt. 5,12).
6. In transmitting the Gospel spirit, Christian families have a perfect model in the Holy Family of Nazareth. We should not imagine that the Holy Family was exempt from problems, trials and suffering. The Holy Family knew poverty, danger, persecution and flight. Hard work provided the repetitive context of it daily life. It is not the absence of hardships that is the measure of a happy family life, but the courage and fidelity and love - for one another and for God - with which the family members meet trials, and either overcome them or accept them as expressions of God's will, and as opportunities to share in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
In our faith and in our devotion, the Holy Family stands out as the living Gospel of life, the Gospel of work and the Gospel of love. At the opening and closing of the recent Year of the Family, an initiative of the United Nations which the Holy See adopted as a spiritual and moral challenge, a Pontifical Legate went to Nazareth to dedicate that Year in a special way to the Holy Family. It was during that Year that the working session of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was held. It was a providential incentive for the Synod Fathers to underline the importance of the family in evangelisation and to see the Church herself as the Family of God in Africa and in the world.
7. May African families find in the Holy Family of Nazareth the path of their safe journey through the upheavals of social change which threaten to uproot them materially and spiritually from their healthy roots!
May the Christian families of this continent experience an outpouring of the strength and joy of the Holy Spirit, for the great task of being evangelised in order to be evangelisers.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Alleluia. Amen.
At the end of this Holy Mass I wish to say how much I appreciated everyone's lively participation. With your songs and dances and gestures you have helped us all to worship the Lord with joy.
I know that Kenyans are joyful people. Always be that way!
And especially you, young people! Kenya is full of wonderful young people! Continue to live your faith with courage, dedication and joy. You are the hope of the Church, you are the future of Africa! Will you live up to this hope and this responsibility? Never forget the Lord is with you. So, be strong and generous! Follow the Lord wherever he leads you!
I thank the parishes, groups, movements and associations for their presence. And I also extend a warm greeting to those of you who have come from other African countries. God bless you all!
At the close of this Eucharistic celebration, which has been a fine African fête, I wish to greet the francophone Pastors and faithful since some of you have come from afar.
In particular, I address my affectionate encouragement to the refugees from Rwanda and Burundi.
Dear refugees, I wish you to know that I am more than ever close to you. What is happening in your countries is a terrible tragedy to which an end must be put. Remember that you are not alone because the Pope is with you. I assure you that I shall continue to do all I can to see that you receive the aid you are in great need of and that you can return to your homes. May God comfort you in your affliction and may he lighten your crosses.
during a Synod Session
"The Bishops of Africa confirmed their steadfast belief that the greatness and mercy of the one God were manifested above all in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, the Son who is consubstantial with the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. This, the Fathers affirmed, is our faith; this is the faith of the Church; this is the faith of all the local Churches which everywhere in Africa are on pilgrimage towards the House of God" (EA 10).
In this same faith, I greet you, dear Cardinal Otunga, Pastor of the Church in Nairobi; and you Brother Bishops of Kenya, of Africa and from other parts of the world; Africa and Madagascar. I greet also you, brother priests, deacons, seminarians, women and men religious, and lay faithful of the Family of God in Africa.
I greet our Friends from the other Christian communities and from other religious traditions.
1. The Church, by means of which we have access to the Father through Christ in the one Spirit (cf. Eph. 2,18), comes from the Father and is making her pilgrim way back to him, through the world, and therefore through Africa. To this world, the Church must speak "the things that are above" (cf. Col. 3,1). As the Third Christian Millennium approaches, the Spirit is calling the Church to proclaim, with ever more urgency and with an increased awareness of what is at stake for the well-being of the human family, the full and genuine liberation which comes through Jesus Christ.
The Church in Africa has heard this call of the Spirit during the Special Session for Africa of the Synod of Bishops. In union with their Pastors, the whole Catholic community has committed itself to be renewed in holiness, to be in a permanent state of mission and, with courage and steadfast hope, to walk with the men and women of this continent the hard way of the Cross. What the Spirit wants of the Church in Africa will come about as the mature fruit of the dedicated involvement of all the Church's members: Bishops, clergy, religious and laity in fulfilling the pastoral programme elaborated by the Synod Fathers and now set out in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa.
The Exhortation recalls that at a crucial moment of Jesus' public life, the Apostle Peter professed his faith and that of the other Apostles in these significant words: "Lord, who shall we go to? You have the message of eternal life, and we believe; we know that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6,68). As the Successor of Peter I have ardently looked forward to coming once more to Africa to encourage you to make the Synod's findings the goal and direction of your Ecclesial life towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
2. The Document itself, however, is only an instrument and a beginning. What counts is the effective renewal of the Church's members and their ever more generous ministry and service. The Church exists to continue the mission of the Son in the power of the Holy Spirit, and to bring the Good News of salvation to the human family. But the Church herself, the community of her members, must be thoroughly evangelised, in order to possess the grace and vitality to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel of the Crucified and Risen Lord.
In God's plan, the Church is not a means to be used for some human enterprise, no matter how noble and useful. Rather, the Church as she comes to us from the loving hand of the Father, is the sign and instrument of the human family's communion with God himself and of its own deepest unity. If Africa is fragmented and divided, the Church as the Family of God must be a model of unity for society. If Africa is hurt by poverty, corruption, injustice and violence, the Church must be a healing, reconciling, forgiving and supporting community. Love is the binding force of this community, in which none are so poor that they have nothing to give and none are so rich that they have nothing to receive. Love of God and love of every human being, especially the poor and defenceless, is the motivating force of the evangelising mission to which you are being called. Love impels Christ's followers to carry his light and his healing to the ends of the earth: and therefore to every corner of Africa.
3. At the beginning of this year I had the wonderful privilege of celebrating the World Youth Day with millions of young people in Manila in the Philippines. On that occasion I was able to meet the Bishops taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences. What I said to them about the great task of evangelisation is equally applicable in Africa: "When we try to imagine the future of evangelisation on this continent, do we see it as the irradiation of a vibrant, living faith practised and declared by individual Christians and Christian communities? ? To irradiate the faith implies the highest standards of Christian living - a rich life of prayer and sacramental practice, the moral integrity - on the part of everyone. To proclaim to others 'eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord' (Rom. 6,23) demands of each member of the Church the holiness and integrity of one for whom to live is Christ (Phil. 1,21). Proclamation become credible when it is accompanied by sanctity of life, sincerity of purpose and respect for others and for the whole of creation" (Address to FABC, Manila, 15 January 1995, n.5).
4. With what resources will the Church in Africa succeed in meeting these enormous challenges? The Synod says: "The most important (resource), after the grace of Christ, is the people. The whole People, which comprises the members of the Body of Christ in its entirety - has received the mandate, which is both an honour and a duty, to proclaim the Gospel? The whole community needs to be trained, motivated and empowered for evangelisation, each according to his or her specific role within the Church" (EA 53).
It is therefore with immense joy and hope that I entrust the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa to each segment of the People of God in Africa, to the agents of evangelisation.
In the first place to the laity. The maturing of the Catholic community in Africa will consist to a great extent in empowering the laity to exercise with responsibility their full Christian vocation and dignity. Lay men and women, and especially young people, are sometimes disappointed at the space given them in the Church, and at the fact that they are not helped to develop to the full their specific charisms. The Synod Fathers acknowledged the need for a dynamic laity: parents who are deeply believing people, educators who are conscious of their responsibilities, political leaders who have a profound sense of morality (cf. Ibid., n.22).
In a special way the fruits of the Synod are entrusted to families, to families striving to live their Christian vocation to the full, for "the home is the first school of Christian life and a 'school for human enrichment'" (ibid., n.92). Precisely because of the strength of Africa's family traditions, the Synod Fathers saw the Church as the Family of God as the guiding idea for the evangelisation of this continent (cf. Ibid., n.63). And it is precisely in the family and through the family that the important question of the inculturation of the faith can be properly fostered in the everyday reality of people's experience. The African family's warmth of relations, its members care for one another, especially for children and the elderly, the solidarity that binds it to the wider community, and its intense love and respect for life conceived and born, is the rich soil in which the Gospel seed can bring forth a splendid flowering of the spirit of the Beatitudes. When traditional family values are purified, elevated and transformed by their encounter with the Gospel of life, the universal Catholic community rediscovers essential dimensions of Christian love and brotherhood, which in more secularised societies are seriously threatened by exaggerated individualism (cf. Ibid., n 43).
The Synod could not overlook the new challenges facing the African family, stemming from the adoption or imposition of models of economic and social development which do not reflect the genius of Africa. Thus all African nations experience the phenomena of "family uprooting, urbanisation, unemployment, and with the materialistic seductions of all kinds, a certain secularisation and an intellectual upheaval accentuated by the avalanche of insufficiently critical ideas spread by the media" (ibid. n.76). Surely Africa has the human and spiritual resources to find its own way to greater material development and well-being without importing the worst aspects of consumerist societies! In the Apostolic Exhortation, I have wished to repeat what I said during my visit to Malawi in 1988: "I put before you today a challenge - a challenge to reject a way of living which does not correspond to the best of your traditions, and your Christian faith. Many people in Africa look beyond modern way of life". Today I urge you to look inside yourselves. Look to the riches of your own traditions, look to the faith which we are celebrating in this assembly. Here you will find genuine freedom - here you will find Christ who will lead you to the truth (ibid., n.48).
5. I entrust the results of the Synod to the youth of Africa, for young people constitute the largest portion of the population and the hope of your future. Young Africans are often caught up in a crisis of identity: between contrasting models of life which leave them confused and without ideals. The Church must find suitable ways of being close to them, with special attention to out-of-schoolers, street children, children migrants and refugees. The Synod calls young people to be Apostles to their own generation, transmitting to others the light of Christ which illumines their own interior (cf. Ibid., n.93).
The fruits of the Synod are entrusted in a special way to Catechists, who have always been and are today "a determinative force in the implantation and expansion of the Church in Africa" (ibid., n 91). In the name of the whole Church I say thanks to all Catechists for the indispensable work you do in the service of the Gospel. Often you work in a quiet, hidden way. The Lord, who sees in the secret of your hearts, will not fail to reward you!
6. With particular confidence I entrust the implementation of the Synod to the consecrated witness and action of women and men religious, whether Africans or missionaries from abroad. You are the living signs of undivided love for God and absolute dedication to the growth of his Kingdom. The Apostolic Exhortation encourages you to seek ways to grow and expand by fostering new vocations, and to continue to bring the richness of your charisms to the Churches and the peoples you serve, just as you have done since the beginning of the plantatio Ecclesiae on this continent.
I appeal in a special way to the contemplative religious communities, to continue to bring the needs of the Church and the peoples of Africa before the throne of God's grace. By the example of your adoration and sacrifice, go on teaching that God is the true centre and goal of human life, and bring upon God's people the supernatural fruitfulness which will make the coming years a new springtime for the Church in Africa.
7. In union with our Brother Bishops, I solemnly entrust the Apostolic Exhortation to the priests and deacons of Africa.
It will depend above all on you and your Bishops whether your parishes, communities and organisations will undergo the renewal which the Spirit is offering and which the Catholic peoples of Africa need in order to enter the Third Christian Millennium with "a firm commitment to implement with great fidelity the decisions and orientations which, with the Apostolic authority of the Successor of Peter, I present in this Exhortation. They are decisions and orientations which can be traced back to the genuine heritage of the Church's teaching and discipline and in particular to the Second Vatican Council, the main source of inspiration for the Special Assembly for Africa" (ibid., n.141). With ardent love in the Lord for each one of you, I encourage you to be servants and leaders through fidelity to the Eucharist and to God's word. You are in the fore-front of the great enterprise of the new evangelisation, which must give flesh to the truths and values of the Gospel in the language, history, and social, political and economic life of your peoples (cf. Ibid., n.59).
8. The Synod is over. The Synod has just begun. The road ahead will not be easy, but every member of the Family of God in Africa - Bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, religious and lay women and men - must all trust in the Lord's promise: "I am always with you, yes, to the end of time!" (Mt. 28,20). To him be glory and honour, for ever and ever.
Speech at Nairobi airport
Dear Mr. President,
1. It is already time to say farewell. My visit has come to an end, all too quickly. I have greatly enjoyed being in Kenya again. I am grateful to everyone for the kindness and interest that have accompanied me at every moment.
I thank you, Mr. President, and the Members of the Government, the civil and military authorities, and all who have contributed to the smooth running of this visit; as well as all the representatives of the press, radio and television, who have followed the events of these days.
I am especially grateful to Cardinal Otunga and to Archbishop Okoth, President of the Episcopal Conference, and all the Bishops, as well as the priests, religious and laity who have taken part so joyously in the Mass and Synodal Session, or followed them in spirit from afar. I leave the Catholic community of Eastern Africa with the assurance of my warm affection in our Lord Jesus Christ.
A word of thanks also goes to the representatives of the other Christian Churches and Ecclesial communities who have wished to take part in these celebrations. It is encouraging to witness the trust and friendship which mark ecumenical relations among Kenyan Christians. May the Holy Spirit lead you along this path to ever greater understanding and mutual support.
I pray too that Christians and Muslims will continue to build bonds of mutual knowledge and respect, so that all believers in the Almighty will work together for the good of society as a whole.
To all the followers of Traditional African Religion, I likewise express my appreciation and esteem.
2. This is the conclusion of my entire journey, which has taken me from Cameroon to South Africa, and to Kenya. These have been three stages of a pilgrimage in spirit to all the peoples of Africa. And what reflection do I make at the end of this pilgrimage? I see a continent eager to rise to a new level of life and dignity. I see a profound process of change taking place: people questioning, seeking the reasons for the slowness of development, and daring to explore new ways to meet the challenges inherent in the changing political and economic world situation. In an increasingly interdependent world, Africans know that they must seize the opportunity to advance not only materially, but above all on the path of respect for human rights and authentic democratic freedom. The peoples of Africa wish to give themselves the chance of a better future. They cannot let themselves down, and they must not be let down by others.
3. From the heart of Africa a cry goes out to those who are in a position to help. The so-called South of the world urges the North not to weaken its resolve to tackle the question of poverty, of refugees, of economic and cultural underdevelopment. The continuing gap between rich and poor regions of the world is a serious threat to global stability. The moral imperative of solidarity is fundamentally linked to human nature itself and to the absolute need which human beings have of one another. At the level of nations and continents, this need must be met, or living together in harmony becomes impossible. The poor do not envy the rich in their progress! They ask them to acknowledge the responsibilities which flow from their situation of privilege and to meet the ethical demands of universal destination of the world's resources. The cry that goes out to the richer nations from the peoples of Africa is for aid, co-operation and solidarity which effectively respect people as people, poor or rich, powerless or powerful, all united in the one human family and in the same human dignity.
No one must be discouraged at the enormity of the demands of a progress that is truly worthy of man. The very scale and importance of the enterprise should already be a source of inspiration and encouragement to Africa's sons and daughters.
4. Every day I pray for Africa's peoples. The Almighty, the Lord of history, gives men and women of goodwill the strength to go forward perseveringly and to follow through courageously in the work of development and peace. He is the guarantee that we do not hope in vain.
Dear friends, Kenya occupies a central place in the promise that is Africa. It has the resources to work against the obstacles that stand in the way of progress, and to work for a society of justice and harmony. All Kenyans must be able to feel proud of their country. All must be able to play a part in building her future. This is the wish I express for you all. This is the prayer I make to Almighty God for the marvellous Kenyan people.
May the God of peace be close to you all! God bless Kenya! God bless Africa!