On his first official visit to Africa, the Pope’s Kenya visit Thursday morning was rainy, but far from dreary as thousands of followers listened to him speak on remembering the poor, tapping into the idealism of youth and protecting innocent unborn children. Pope Francis gave the mass at the University of Nairobi, in the Kenyan capital to a large crowd who had waited for him since dawn.

The Pope spoke a little on the recent terror attacks in Kenya where 100s of civilians were killed by the Shabab, a Somalian militant group. He said that young people are being radicalized in the name of religion, and that it is sowing discord and fear, as well as tearing at the fabric of society.

He told the people that instead, it is vital that they be seen as prophets of peace.

The Pope ended his message to the people by saying, “Mungu ibariki Kenya,” which means “God Bless Kenya.”

Meeting with Kenya’s religious leaders included in Pope’s Kenya visit

Earlier in the day the Pope’s Kenya visit included meeting with several religious leaders from Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs, and well as some who identified with being traditionalists. He told them that a dialogue between different religions wasn’t something that is optional, nor is it a luxury, but instead it is vital and something the whole world needs because there is increasing conflict and division.

During the visit, it was said that the religious leader seemed tired, however, when he spoke it was obvious how warm the Pope is, and that he always made eye contact with a sparkle in his eyes.

Security tight for Pope’s visit

Security for the Pope’s Kenya visit has been very tight, but he came to town in a Honda Civic from the airport with Kenyan officials travelling around him in black Mercedes sedans. A champion for the poor, the Pope was seen as being humble, and the people praised that, saying their politicians could learn something from the Pope’s example.

Friday’s plans for the Pope include visiting Kangemi, one of the worst slums in Kenya. Then, he will fly to Uganda and also go to visit the Central African Republic. His main theme for Uganda is to try to bridge the gap in the division between Christians and Muslims there, as there have been several terror attacks there in the past, as well as in the Central African Republic.

About a third of Kenya’s population is Catholic, and this is expected to grow by 2050, so the Pope’s Kenya visit is a very popular and important trip for all of them.