Pope Francis has warned of a “catastrophic” outcome if vested interests blocked an agreement to tackle climate change at the UN talks opening in Paris next week.
“In a few days, an important meeting on climate change will be held in Paris… It would be sad, and I dare say even catastrophic, were particular interests to prevail over the common good and lead to manipulating information in order to protect their own plans and projects,” said Pope Francis at the world headquarters of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi.
“We are confronted with a choice which cannot be ignored: either to improve or to destroy the environment,” he said ahead of COP21, a 12-day conference in the French capital which aims to secure a climate rescue pact that officially starts in November 30.
He called on nations to take care of nature through tree planting to protect earth and humanity.
“Planting a tree is first and foremost an invitation to continue the battle against phenomena like deforestation and desertification. It reminds us of the importance of safeguarding and responsibly administering those richly bio diverse lungs of our planet, which include, on this continent, the Congo basins, a place essential for the entire earth and for the future of humanity,” he said.
“Planting a tree is also an incentive to keep trusting, hoping, and above all working in practice to reverse all those situations of injustice and deterioration which we currently experience,” he added.
The Pope said Africa offers the world a beauty and natural richness which inspire praise of the Creator.
“This patrimony of Africa and of all mankind is constantly exposed to the risk of destruction caused by human selfishness of every type and by the abuse of situations of poverty and exclusion,” he said and further blamed first-world countries for not doing enough to curb global warming.
More than 150 heads of state and government are due to attend the start of the conference, which will end December 11.
Pope Francis has called upon interreligious leaders to work together for peace.
Speaking today during a meeting with interreligious and ecumenical leaders at the apostolic nunciature in Nairobi on his second day of Apostolic and state visit to the country, Pope Francis said while ecumenical relationships can be demanding, they are not optional.
“…ecumenical and interreligious dialogue is not a luxury. It is not something extra or optional, but essential, something which our world, wounded by conflict and division, increasingly needs,” the Pope said.
The Holy Father noted that “not only is it essential for peace, interreligious dialogue can be a rich source of enlightenment and becomes an “important service to the common good.”
The Pope’s address also falls seven months after terrorists killed 147 students at Garissa University College in Garissa, and four months after gunmen killed 14 quarry workers in Mandera.
In 2013, 67 people were killed when terrorists attacked shoppers at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi.Each of these attacks were carried out by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate operating out of the neighboring country of Somalia.
“I know that the barbarous attacks on Westgate Mall, Garissa University College and Mandera are fresh in your minds,” he said adding. “All too often, young people are being radicalized in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies.”
“How important it is that we be seen as prophets of peace, peacemakers who invite others to live in peace, harmony and mutual respect!”
The Holy Father also stressed the importance of never committing violence in the name of God, and prayed for the conversion of heart of all those who perpetrated violence in the name of religion.
“As we look to the future, let us pray that all men and women will see themselves as brothers and sisters, peacefully united in and through our differences. Let us pray for peace!”
Pope Francis celebrated a historic Mass in Kenya on November 26, a day declared a national public holiday on his first visit as a pontiff to Africa.
The Mass was held at the University of Nairobi grounds and brought together faithful from all the dioceses in Kenya, archbishops and bishops from AMECEA region and Congo, thousands of priests, men and women religious.
In his homily the Holy Father noted that Kenyan society has long been blessed with strong family life, a deep respect for the wisdom of the elderly and love for children and called on Kenyans to offer more support to the families saying “the health of any society depends on the health of its families.”
“For their sake, and for the good of society, our faith in God’s word calls us to support families in their mission in society, to accept children as a blessing for our world, and to defend the dignity of each man and woman, for all of us are brothers and sisters in the one human family,” he said.
The pontiff further appealed to young people of Kenya to work towards shaping a just society which is inclusive and respectful of human dignity.
“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,” he said.
Thousands of enthusiastic Kenyans filled streets in Nairobi from as early as 3am despite heavy downpour to be part of the historic event.
“I come from Laisamis Parish in Marsabit Diocese; I am very excited to see the Pope. My heart is filled with love and peace even though I have been rained on,” said Magdalene who attended the Papal Mass.
The Mass was also attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto, Former President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leaders.
Earlier The Pope met with inter-religious and ecumenical leaders at the Nunciature and later met with Catholic clergy at St Mary’s School, Nairobi. He also addressed environmental issues at the headquarters of the UN Environment Programme in Nairobi.
NAIROBI NOVEMBER 25, 2015 (CISA) – Pope Francis has arrived in Kenya for his three-day visit.
The Alitalia flight carrying the Pope touched down 4:30pm at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and at 4:50 pm the pontiff was received by President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.
He was later introduced to a number of government officials including Deputy President William Ruto and Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero.
Catholic archbishops and bishops from Kenya and the AMECEA region were also on hand to welcome the pontiff.
A group of traditional dancers and a Catholic choir entertained the pope who waved in acknowledgment to their lively performance.
Esther Njoki Ndiangui a member of St. Augustine Ruai choir from St. Peter’s Catholic Parish from the Archdioceses of Nairobi was among the entertainers and said she was very happy to see the Pope.
“I was even unable to sing when I saw him board off the plane. I was feeling like jumping off to go and shake his hands. I expect the Pope to talk about peace, forgiveness and reconciliation,” she told CISA.
The Pope later left the airport for State House, Nairobi where he addressed about 2,000 invited guests and the Nation.
He had earlier in the day sent a goodwill message wishing Kenyans God’s blessings, in a tweet that was posted midway on his flight from Rome to Nairobi.
“Mungu abariki Kenya! God bless Kenya!” read the tweet posted on his official Twitter page, @Pontifex.
The Holy Father is expected to preside over a public Mass tomorrow November 26, a day that has been declared a national holiday with millions of faithful expected to attend.
The Popes five-day visit will also see him go to Uganda and Central African Republic.
NAIROBI NOVEMBER 25, 2015(CISA)-Pope Francis has encouraged Kenyans to continue working for peace in the country.
“Experience shows that violence, conflict and terrorism feed on fear, mistrust, and the despair born of poverty and frustration,” Pope Francis said November 25 during his first public address in Kenya.
He noted that Kenya’s public officials have “a special responsibility to work to protect peace and to secure a just society.”
“To the extent that our societies experience divisions, whether ethnic, religious or economic, all men and women of good will are called to work for reconciliation and peace, forgiveness and healing,” said Pope Francis.
The Holy Father further encouraged Kenyans to fearlessly work towards instilling the values that inspired the birth of Kenya.
“Ultimately, the struggle against these enemies of peace and prosperity must be carried out by men and women who fearlessly believe in, and bear honest witness to, the great spiritual and political values which inspired the birth of the nation,” he said.
The Pope gave President Kenyatta a drawing of the facade of St. Peter’s Basilica by the architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The drawing dates back to the 17th century.
President Kenyatta, in his remarks welcoming the Pope, noted the great opportunities and challenges facing Kenya, including efforts to promote highest standards in government, inclusivity and peace while also addressing environmental problems.
He noted the Catholic Church’s role as a “strong partner” in social and economic development in Kenya.
“The church has long been a partner of the state in the integral development without which any hope of cohesion and inclusivity would be vain…. Through its dioceses in Kenya, the church is our largest non-state provider of health care with nearly 500 healthcare units, and over 50 community-based orphanages, and programs for vulnerable children.
“The Church is the largest non-state provider of health care and runs numerous organizations for orphans and vulnerable children. The Church’s network of Catholic schools includes 8,000 primary and secondary schools, five colleges and a university.
President Kenyatta noted that he too is a beneficiary of Catholic schools.
He closed with a prayer request: “Holy Father, I ask you to pray for Kenya, that God will hear us, that he will heal this land.”