The first Pope from the Americas has kicked off his first Apostolic Visit to Africa, the continent where the Church is growing most rapidly in the world.
Pope Francis’ flight touched down early, about 4:30 p.m. local time, in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, where he was welcomed by the nation’s President, Uhuru Kenyatta. The Holy Father received a warm welcome from local religious leaders and by crowds who were chanting, singing, and dancing. It was a very festive atmosphere.
The last Pope to visit Kenya was Pope John Paul II, who traveled to the country three times in 1980, 1985 and 1995.
Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, visited Africa in 2009, but he went to Angola and Cameroon.
Before being taken by car to the State House for an official welcome ceremony, Pope Francis signed a visitor’s book and met privately with President Kenyatta for a few minutes.
After the welcome ceremony, the Pope will meet with the civil authorities of Kenya and with the diplomatic corps.