Vast crowds celebrate pope’s first mass in Africa

November 26, 2015 11:23 am
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“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,” Francis told the crowd, which included Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

– ‘God of peace, not violence’ –

As the rain fell, a sea of brightly-coloured umbrellas popped up, stretching as far as the eye could see, some in the white and gold of the Vatican flag.

A day after his arrival, Kenya’s main newspapers homed in on his choice of vehicle to travel from the airport: a simple grey saloon car.

“Modesty at its best as pope rides in simple car,” The Standard newspaper said, noting the stark contrast with the government’s large luxury “fuel guzzlers”.

Ahead of the mass, Francis met with religious leaders of different faiths, speaking out against the radicalisation of young people and the “barbarous attacks” carried out in the name of religion.

“All too often, young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies,” the pope said nearly two weeks after young jihadists, many of them French, killed 130 people in a series of gun and suicide attacks in Paris.

“The God whom we serve is a God of peace. His name must never be used to justify hatred and violence.”

Kenya has suffered numerous attacks since sending its army into neighbouring Somalia in 2011 after a string of kidnappings it blamed on Al-Qaeda’s East Africa branch, the Shabaab.

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