“The Church in Kenya must always be true to her mission as an instrument of reconciliation, justice and peace.”
These were the words of Pope Francis to the Episcopal Conference of Kenya who are in Rome for their ad Limina Apostolorum visit. The Holy Father began his address by welcoming them, saying that the vocations from the African nation studying in Rome is a sign of many youth answering the call to the priesthood.
“I think in a special way of the zeal, hope and dedication of seminarians who wish to give everything to Christ through service to the Church,” he said.
“While the seeds of a priestly vocation are sown long before a man arrives at the seminary, first in the heart of the family, it pertains to seminary formators to nurture the growth of these vocations.”
The Pope stressed the need of a formation for seminarians that is “humanly sound, spiritually deep, intellectually rich, and pastorally diverse.”
Expressing his support for men and women religious in the year of Consecrated Life, the Jesuit Pope asked the bishops to convey his gratitude and closeness to them.
Lead by Example
Pope Francis also conveyed his joy at the many Catholics who give witness to faith with their lives. The mission of the Church, he said, is to offer hope to all.
“In this regard, without wishing to interfere in temporal affairs, the Church must insist, especially to those who are in positions of leadership and power, on those moral principles which promote the common good and the upbuilding of society as a whole.”
The Church, he continued, must take a “prophetic stand against corruption, abuse of power and defense of the poor.
“Do not be afraid to be a prophetic voice! Do not be afraid to preach with conviction!” he exclaimed. “Bring the wisdom of the Church, enshrined particularly in her social teaching, to bear on Kenyan society.”
The 78 year old Pontiff also highlighted the need for the Church in Kenya to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation, especially between Christian and non-Christian leaders alike.
The Holy Father said such dialogue will help bring reassurance and solace to Kenyan citizens, particularly after the devastating terrorist attack on April 3rd.
“With you, I pray for all those who have been killed by acts of terror or ethnic or tribal hostilities in Kenya as well as other areas of the continent. I think most especially of the men and women killed at Garissa University College on Good Friday,” he said.
“May their souls rest in peace and their loved ones be consoled, and may those who commit such brutality come to their senses and seek mercy.”
The Holy Father went on to encourage the bishops in their pastoral care of families, particularly as the Church prepares for the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October. The 78 year old Pontiff called on them to strengthen those suffering from broken marriages, infidelity, addiction and violence.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis expressed his hope that the upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy would be a time of forgiveness, healing and conversion in Kenya.
“Touched by Christ’s infinite mercy, may all the faithful be signs of the reconciliation, justice and peace that God wills for your country, and indeed, all of Africa,” he concluded.
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On ZENIT’s webpage:
For the full text of the Pope’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-kenyan-bishops-on-ad-limina-apostolorum-visit