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Kenya: Excitement, anticipation surrounding Pope Francis visit

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis leaves Wednesday, November 25, for his first apostolic trip to Africa. The Holy Father plans to travel to Uganda and the Central African Republic later in the week, but his first stop will be Kenya.

Kenya has faced many challenges over the past few years, from political crises to terrorist attacks committed by Al-Shabaab, the Somalia-based terrorist group. It is hoped the visit by Pope Francis will promote national healing.

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“There is excitement, anticipation, and a lot of joy, because the visit of the Holy Father is a great succor for the Christians,” said David Omwoyo, the Director of Communications at the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.

“ Remember, at the time when the Holy Father started reflected a bit about the challenges facing the Church in Kenya – and when he spoke of his intention to visit if possible – was after the many terrorism attacks,” Omwoyo said.

“At that time the Church felt really persecuted, and the Holy Father’s intention at that time was to come and show solidarity with the people” – he continued – “and then, over time, as the trip and the intention to travel materialized, the need to come and bring together religious leaders and political leaders in national reconciliation and peace-building has been very important; [as well as] solidarity with the youth and young people, and also solidarity with [Church leaders].”

Omwoyo said Kenya has improved its intelligence and policing, and there has not been any major terrorist event or political violence recently.

“Kenya is very safe at the moment…among one of the safest countries in the African continent,” he said.

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