ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, Dec 1 – On his way back to the Vatican at the end of his five day tour of Africa, Pope Francis told Kenyan journalists that his heart went out to their countrymen who were burdened by corrupt leaders.
Pope Francis said he was sympathetic to the plight of those forced to live in slums and for the youth whose future aspirations were threatened by those who worshiped money and placed little value on human life.
“I met the poor in Kangemi and the youth in Kenya. I felt pain and sorrow and I thought about how people don’t realise what is happening. The uneconomic system is at the centre of everything,” he said.
Pope Francis said this, “idolatry of money,” had led to an unstable socio-economic model in many countries the world over and needed urgent re-organisation.
“I know this problem. I have spoken three times strongly about, in Bolivia and other two places I have visited. I don’t remember the statistics very well but the ones I’ve heard of show that 80 percent of the world’s riches are in the hands of 17 percent of the population.”
During his visit to Kenya, Pope Francis didn’t ignore the elephant in the room – corruption – and with President Uhuru Kenyatta having set the tone, took it head on in several meetings.
When he received Pope Francis at State House, President Kenyatta asked the Pope to pray for him as he tackled the vice.
In two speeches thereafter, addressing slum families in Kangemi and youth at the Kasarani stadium, Pope Francis shamed, “faceless private developers,” who went as far as grabbing school land, water cartels, exploitative landlords in the slums and public officials who extorted bribes.
“When we take a bribe and we put it in our pocket we destroy our hearts, our personality and our country. Corruption is not a path to life, it’s a path to death,” the Pope cautioned.
The Pope returned to the Vatican on Monday evening after completing a three country tour in Africa that was focused around family values, conservation and an equitable sharing of resources.