Pope urges Kenyans to work for peace

“As we fight this war, recent events around the world have indeed taught us that we must do even more to bring unity and understanding between faiths, between ethnicities, between races but also between nations,” he said.

Francis is aiming to bring a message of peace and reconciliation to Africa, but is also stressing some issues close to his heart including the need to fight poverty, protect the environment and encourage good governance. Thousands of people lined his motorcade route, snapping photos as he whizzed by with their cell phones.

Francis urged Kenya’s political, social and economic leaders to work with “integrity and transparency” for the common good, a clear reference to Kenya’s poor record with corruption. Transparency International ranked Kenya a lowly 145 out of 174 countries in its 2014 corruption perception index, and Kenyatta this week described corruption as a national security threat to East Africa’s largest economy.

“I ask you in particular to show genuine concern for the needs of the poor, the aspirations of the young, and a just distribution of the natural and human resources with which the Creator has blessed your country,” Francis said.

Kenyatta, for his part, said corruption was the major challenge facing the country. His rule has come under criticism for a lack of high-level prosecutions of officials accused of corruption.

On the eve of Francis’ arrival, he replaced six ministers who vacated office after they were accused of corruption.

“Kenya’s future depends on upholding the highest standards of integrity in governance, in inclusivity and in the protection of peace,” Kenyatta said.

After visiting Nairobi’s Kangemi slum Friday, Francis heads to Uganda where he’ll pray at the shrine to the country’s famous martyrs and celebrate a Mass.

Some uncomfortable issues may arise: The church’s opposition to condoms as a way to fight AIDS, and its support of local legislation criminalizing homosexuality are chief among them.

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