Pope Francis slams nation’s elite, corruption on his last day in Kenya – CNN

‘We are so blessed’

Kangemi residents welcomed his long-term focus on the downtrodden.

“Sometimes challenges in slums almost cause us to despair and some people give up working in slums,” said Sister Mari Killeen, who works in poor areas.

“Your (pope’s) visit gives us courage. By coming here, you shine a light on the challenges. Your meeting with us gives us dignity.”

When Francis weaved through the slum’s narrow streets in his popemobile, crowds reached out to touch his hand as he waved from behind a clear protective covering.

Women ululated as children crooned Swahili welcome songs.

‘I’m so happy, we are so blessed,” said Magdalene Mwikali, 36, of Kangemi.

“He’s left all those rich neighborhoods to come here,” she said. ” He’s shown us we are important, that we matter, that God loves us too.”

Volunteer cleanup

Excited residents have prepared for this trip for weeks, Mwikali said.

Scores volunteered to sweep littered streets and cover dirt roads with gravel. Others perched Vatican flags on streets leading to the church in Kangemi.

The presence of an international figure in their backyard drew some closer to the church.

“He has restored my faith, I have a role model and will practice his humility, ” said Regina Kimende, who came from a neighboring parish. ” After seeing him today, I have decided my life is at the church. I’m starting all over.”

Last day in Kenya

Francis’ last day in Kenya included meeting with youths at a Nairobi sports center, where he will also talk with bishops.

During his meeting with the youth, he addressed corruption, which is rampant in Kenya and has made headlines recently.

“It’s not just in politics, it is in all institutions, including in the Vatican there are cases of corruption,” he said.

“Corruption is something that eats you inside like sugar. It’s sweet, we like it, it’s easy. And then we end up sick and poor. So much sugar that we either end up being diabetic or own country ends up being diabetic.”

He also called for equal distribution of wealth to ensure the disenfranchised are not at risk of getting radicalized.

Later Friday, he’ll board a flight to neighboring Uganda, where he’ll kick off his visit there at the state house with President Yoweri Museveni in Kampala.

After his visit to Uganda, he’ll head to the Central African Republic, the latter in the throes of a conflict in which Christians and Muslims are slaughtering one another.

‘Catastrophic’ warning

Francis’ first papal trip to Africa started in Kenya on Wednesday. It has focused on issues close to his heart: climate change, the poor and children.

A day before, he delivered a stern warning ahead of a key climate change conference in Paris. He urged nations to reach an agreement over curbing fossil fuel emissions, and work together to find solutions to environmental degradation.

“It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good,” the Pope said.

But it was his comments on the pillaging of African resources that drew a louder response.

He urged Africans to demand an end to poaching, which “fuels political instability, organized crime and terrorism.”

His message reverberated with a nation where farming and tourism are a crucial part of the economy.

‘Unifying gesture’

Aside from visiting a region with the highest growth in the Catholic Church, the Pope’s plan to stop at a mosque in the Central African Republic sends a powerful message.

In the Central African Republic, a Muslim rebel group overthrew the Christian president two years ago, prompting brutal retaliatory attacks between Christian and Muslim militias.

Those attacks continue to this day, and have displaced hundreds of thousands of people. 

Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict, also visited several countries in Africa. During his nearly three decades in the papacy, Pope John Paul II also made dozens of trips to the continent.  

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