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Saint John Paul II's 1st Apostolic Visit to Kenya

6th - 8th May 1980

Pope St John Paul II was a pilgrim to Kenya for the first time in 1980 during his first pilgrimage to Africa, his 5th apostolic journey, on which he also visited DR Congo (then Zaire), Congo-Brazaville, Ghana, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) and the Ivory Coast. JPII returned to Kenya in 1985 & 1995; Pope Francis visited in 2015.

Pope St John Paul II's itinerary included the following:
Tuesday 6th May - arrival in Nairobi, meeting with the faithful in Nairobi Cathedral Cathedral and with the Diplomatic Corps.
7th May - Holy Mass in Nairobi, meeting with Carmelite Sisters, the Kenyan President, Muslim Leaders, members of the Hindu community, representatives of other Christian Churches, with Bishops from other African Countries, and lastly Kenyan Bishops.
Thursday 8th May - departure for Ghana.

Pope Saint John Paul II's address on his arrival in Kenya
Nairobi, Tuesday 6 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Kenya, Honourable Members of the Government, Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, Mr Mayor of the City of Nairobi,
Dear brothers and sisters,
1. I am deeply grateful for the courteous and cordial words of welcome which His Excellency the President of Kenya has addressed to me. For it is not only a privilege but also a joy to be able to come and visit the people of this country. Hearing these words of welcome, which are the expression of the traditional African hospitality which graces your people, I cannot but feel that I have come among friends, that I have been accepted into your great family, the family of the whole nation of Kenya.

I thank you most sincerely Mr President, for the invitation you extended to me some time ago. In it I have found confirmation of the esteem which you, as Head of this Republic, wish to express for me, the Head of the Catholic Church. In your invitation I feel again your commitment to foster mutual understanding among all peoples and nations. In it I have encountered your deep respect for all men of religion and for the valuable contribution which true believers in God can make to the future of your country and indeed of all nations.

Through Your Excellency I greet all your fellow-citizens wherever they may be: in your cities and villages, on your mountains and in your plains, by your rivers and by your lakes. I greet all the men and women of this country, which has been blessed by peace and by the unanimity of its inhabitants in their endeavours to promote just progress for everyone, while preserving a rich cultural identity. I greet the parents and their children, the pride and joy of every family and of the nation as a whole. I greet your elders and all those who are entrusted with the welfare of their fellow-citizens. In a very special way, my heart goes out to the sick and suffering and to all who are weighed down by heavy burdens. Know that there is a brother who has come to you from Rome, one who thinks of you, who loves you and is close to you in prayer. And finally, I wish to extend my warm greetings also to the many citizens living outside the country, for reasons of work or study or service to their homeland.

Wananchi wote, wananchi wote wapenzi - to all of you, the people who live and work in Kenya, to all of you I say: thank you for your welcome and may peace be with you!

2. My visit is also the pastoral journey of the Bishop of Rome, the Pastor of the universal Church, to the Church in Kenya. Your Eminence, Cardinal Otunga, and my dear brother Bishops: allow me to tell you how much I appreciate and bless this moment of my first contact with you on your native soil. You have invited me to come, and in the name of the Lord - in the holy name of Jesus Christ - I greet you and all the people who are entrusted to your pastoral care.

Today I am in your midst because I want to heed the command which the Lord Jesus himself gave to Saint Peter and to the other Apostles: that they should be his "witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth" [Act 1, 8]; because I want to testify with you that Jesus is the Lord, that he is risen from the dead so that all people may live. I come to you as the Successor of Saint Peter in the See of Rome to praise the Lord together with you for all the marvels which he has wrought in the Church in Kenya.

3. And now I wish to offer a particular greeting to you, the young people present here, and through you to all the youth of this land! For I know that you carry in your hearts your dreams for the future of Kenya, and in your hands the power to make those dreams come true. May peace and joy be always in your hearts!

I have been told that you make up more than half of the population of this nation; and so, talking to Kenya means talking to you! These then are my words to you today: be yourselves, under the fatherhood of God be upright citizens of your country, worthy sons and daughters of Kenya. Be young people, and reach out to each other in generosity and fraternal service. Be young people, and do not let your hearts know selfishness or greed. Be young people, and let your songs reveal your daring and your vision for the future!

Yes, young people of Kenya, what I have told youth all over the world I now repeat to you: the Pope is your friend and he loves you, and he sees in you the hope for a better future, a better world! My special message to you, and through you to all the young people of Kenya is this: "Always treat others as you would like them to treat you" [Mt 7, 12]. Believe in the power of love to uplift humanity. With courage and prayer, with determination and effort, obstacles can be overcome, problems solved. May Almighty God protect you and sustain you in this hour of challenge and destiny.

4. And to all of you, dear friends, I express once again my thanks for the warm hospitality of your land. From this first moment on Kenyan soil you have opened your hearts to me. In return I assure you of my affection, friendship and esteem. And now I would borrow from your National Anthem those words which so aptly express my sentiments and my prayer at this time as I begin my pastoral visit to Kenya: "O God of all creation, bless this our land and nation" - Ee Mungu nguvu yetu - Ilete baraka Kwetu!"

Pope Saint John Paul II's address in the Cathedral of Nairobi
Nairobi, Tuesday 6 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Eminence, zealous Pastor of this beloved Church of Nairobi,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, Sons and daughters of Kenya,
My brothers and sisters in Christ,

1. My first desire in this House of God is to express the Church’s praise for the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has gathered us together in his Son, sending forth his Holy Spirit into our midst.

In the words of the Apostle Peter: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...” [1 Pet 1, 3].

2. Today in this Cathedral dedicated to the Holy Family - to Jesus, Mary and Joseph - all of us realize that together we make up the Body of Christ, together we are the Church. We are a living Church, a spiritual house made up of living stones - all of us live in Christ. We are one with all our brothers and sisters here in Kenya and throughout the world; we are one in the communion of Saints, one with the living and the dead - our families, our ancestors, those who brought to us the word of God and whose memory is enshrined for ever in our hearts.

Today, in particular, we are a communion of faith and love, confessing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Lord of history, the Redeemer of man and the Saviour of the whole world. We are one united community, living, in the mystery of the Church, the life of the crucified and Risen Christ, and therefore his praise is in our hearts and on our lips. It finds expression in our Easter Alleluia. We are, as it were, the extended Holy Family, called to build and enlarge the edifice of justice and peace and the civilization of love.

3. Because of this we are challenged to live a life worthy of our calling as members of Christ’s Body and as brothers and sisters of Christ in accord with our Christian dignity and duty to walk humbly and peacefully together along the path of life. Jesus himself exhorts us to be, by our lives, the salt of the earth and the light of the world. With him I say to you: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" [Mt 5, 16].

4. Each one of us has a unique place in the communion of the one universal Church throughout Africa and the whole world. You, the laity, pursuing a vocation of holiness and love, have a particular responsibility for the consecration of the world. Through you the Gospel must reach all levels of society. In imitation of the Holy Family, you parents and children must build a community of love and understanding, where the joys and hopes and sorrows of life are shared together, and offered to God in prayer. You couples must be the sign of God’s faithful and unbreakable love for his people, and of Christ’s love for his Church. It is you who have the great mission of giving Christ to each other and to your children, and in this way you are the first catechists of your children. I greet also all the catechists who serve the Church of God so devotedly. And you young people who are preparing for the priesthood or religious life are called to believe in the power of Christ’s grace in your lives. The Lord needs you to carry on this work of redemption among your brothers and sisters.

You religious, both men and women, through the profession of the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience are called to give an effective witness to Christ’s Kingdom, the fullness of which is to be revealed only at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are called, in a life of joyful consecration and permanent commitment, to be a sign of holiness in the Church, and therefore a sign of encouragement and hope to all the People of God. You are, moreover, in a position to make a great contribution to the Church’s apostate by your activities and your life of prayer. In fulfilling this mission the measure of your effectiveness will be in the proportion that you remain united with the Bishops and work in close union with them. And you, my brothers in the priesthood, yours is a mission of proclaiming salvation, of building up the Church by the Eucharistic sacrifice; yours is a vocation of special companionship with Christ, offering your lives in celibacy in order to be like Jesus, the Good Shepherd in the midst of your people - the people of Kenya.

And finally, my dear brother Bishops, in union with the whole Episcopal College that is united with the Successor of Peter, you are called to exercise the pastoral leadership of the whole flock in the name of Jesus Christ, "the chief Shepherd" [1 Pet 5, 4]; yours is therefore a role of special servanthood. You are the appointed guardians of the unity that we are living and experiencing today, because you are the guardians of God’s word upon which all unity is based. And, in a particular way, dear Cardinal Otunga, by reason of your eminent position, you are yourself a visible link with the See of Rome, and a special sign of Catholic unity within your local Church. I am deeply grateful for your fidelity and for your devoted collaboration.

5. And so let us all, as one redeemed people, one Body of Christ, one Church, stand firm together in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledging him as "God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God". With Saint Peter, let us say to Jesus: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" [Mt 16, 16]. And again: "You have the words of eternal life" [Jn 6, 68].

And on my part as the Successor of Peter, I have come to you today to repeat Christ’s words of eternal life, to proclaim his message of salvation and hope, and to offer all of you his peace: "Peace to all of you who are in Christ" [1 Pet 5, 14].

Peace to the living.
Peace to the dead, to all those who have gone before us with the sign of faith.
Peace to all Kenya. Peace to all Africa - the peace of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."

Pape Saint Jean Paul II's address to the Diplomatic Community 
Nairobi, Tuesday 6 May 1980 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Your visit here this evening gives me great pleasure, for it offers me an opportunity to meet so many distinguished members of the Diplomatic Community. My cordial and respectful welcome goes also to the representatives of regional and international organizations, whose activities enrich this Capital city. I thank all of you for the honour you show me by your courteous presence. I am indeed grateful to the Representative of the Holy See for having taken the initiative to offer you the hospitality of this house, which is also my home during my stay in Nairobi.

I am sure that you are well acquainted with this continent, both by virtue of your office and as a result of the daily contacts that you have with the leaders and the people of Africa. You will therefore not be surprised if I address my remarks primarily to the African situation to some of the problems which face this continent.

2. Tonight I wish to recall the prophetic words which Paul VI addressed to the Parliament of Uganda, in which he spoke of Africa as being "emancipated from its past and ripe for a new era".

Standing here in Kenya eleven years later, I dare to say: This new era has begun and Africa is showing itself ready for the challenge! During these years, so much has happened, so many changes have come about, so much progress has been made; and at the same time so many new problems have arisen. Hence, it seems that this is now an appropriate occasion for me to speak about the new reality of Africa.

Many of the African situations and problems that demand our attention today are no different from those that affect other nations and continents in the world. Others, however, are typically African in the sense that the elements of the problems and the resources available for their solutions - natural and especially human resources - are unique for this continent. In this there is a paramount factor that must be kept in mind. It is the true identity of the African, the African person, the African man and woman.

3. The path that every human community must walk in its quest to ascertain the deeper meaning of its existence is the path of truth about man in his totality. If we want to understand the situation in Africa, its past and its future, we must start from the truth of the African person - the truth of every African in his or her concrete and historical setting. If this truth is not grasped, there can exist neither any understanding among the African peoples themselves nor any just and fraternal relations between Africa and the rest of the world, for the truth about man is a prerequisite for all human achievements.

The truth about the African individual must be seen, first and foremost, in his or her dignity as a human person. There are present in the culture of this continent many elements which help one to understand this truth. Is it not refreshing to know that the African accepts, with his whole being, the fact that there is a fundamental relationship between himself and God the Creator? Hence he is prone to consider the reality of himself or of the material world around him within the context of this relationship, thus expressing a fundamental reference to God who "created man in the image of himself, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” [Gen 1, 27]. The unique dignity, and fundamental equality of all human persons must therefore be accepted as the starting point for a true understanding of the identity and the aspirations of the people of this continent.

African society has also - built into its life - a set of moral values, and these values shed further light on the true identity of the African. History testifies how the African continent has always known a strong sense of community in the different groups that make up its social structure; this is especially true in the family where there is strong coherence and solidarity. And what better insight can be found into the necessity for the peaceful solution of conflicts and difficulties - a way that is in keeping with human dignity - than that innate propensity for dialogue, that desire to explain differing views in conversation, to which the African turns so easily and which he accomplishes with such natural grace? A sense of celebration expressed in spontaneous joy, a reverence for life and the generous acceptance of new life - these are some more of the elements that are part of the heritage of the African and help define his identity.

4. It is against this background that the Catholic Church, in the light of her own convictions drawn from the Message of Christ, views the realities of Africa today, and proclaims her trust in this continent.

A few days before leaving on this pastoral visit, I expressed my joy in being able to visit the peoples of Africa in their own countries, in their own sovereign states, where they are "the true masters of their own land and the helmsmen of their own destiny" [Regina Caeli 27 Apr 1980]. In Africa, most of the nations have known colonial administration in the past. While not denying the various achievements of this administration, the world rejoices in the fact that this period is now drawing to a final close. The peoples of Africa, with a few painful exceptions, are assuming full political responsibility for their own destiny - and I greet here particularly the recently achieved independence of Zimbabwe. But one cannot ignore the fact that other forms of dependence are still a reality or at least a threat.

Political independence and national sovereignty demand, as a necessary corollary, that there be also economic independence and freedom from ideological domination. The situation of some countries can be profoundly conditioned by the decisions of other powers, among which are the major world powers. There can also be the subtle threat of interference of an ideological nature that may produce, in the area of human dignity, effects that are even more deleterious than any other form of subjugation. There are still situations and systems, within individual countries, and in the relationships between States, that are "marked by injustice and social injury" [Speech to UN 2 Oct 1979] and that still condemn many people to hunger, disease, unemployment, lack of education and stagnation in their process of achieving development.

5. The State, the justification of which is the sovereignty of society, and to which is entrusted the safeguarding of independence, must never lose sight of its first objective, which is the common good of all its citizens - all its citizens without distinction, and not just the welfare of one particular group or category. The State must reject anything unworthy of the freedom: and of the human rights of its people, thus banishing all elements such as abuse of authority, corruption, domination of the weak, the denial to the people of their right share in political life and decisions, tyranny or the use of violence and terrorism. Here again, I do not hesitate to refer to the truth about man. Without the acceptance of the truth about man, of his dignity and eternal destiny, there cannot exist within the nation that fundamental trust which is a basic ingredient of all human achievements. Neither can the public function be seen for what it truly is: a service to the people, which finds its only justification in solicitude for the good of all.

6. In this same context of the respect of the dignity of its citizens by the State, I wish to draw attention to the question of religious freedom.

Because she believes that no freedom can exist that no true fraternal love is possible without reference to God, who "created man in the image of himself" [Gen 1, 27], the Catholic Church will never cease to defend, as a fundamental right of every person, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.

"The curtailment and violation of religious freedom of individuals and communities is not only a painful experience", I stated in my Encyclical, "but it is above all an attack on man’s very dignity, independently of the religion professed or of the concept of the world which these individuals and communities have". And I added that, because unbelief, lack of religion and atheism can be understood only in relation to religion and faith, it is difficult to accept "a position that gives only atheism the right of citizenship in public and social life, while believers are, as though by principle, barely tolerated or are treated as second-class citizens or are even - and this has happened - entirely deprived of the rights of citizenship” [Redemptor Hominis, 17]. For this reason, the Church believes - without hesitation and without doubt - that an atheistic ideology cannot be the moving and guiding force for advancing the well-being of individuals or for promoting social justice when it deprives man of his God-given freedom, his spiritual inspiration and the power to love his fellowmen adequately.

7. Another problem on which the truth about man, and about the African in particular, impels me to speak out, is the persistent problem of racial discrimination. The aspiration to equal dignity on the part of individuals and peoples, together with its concrete implementation in every aspect of social life, has always been strongly supported and defended by the Church. During his visit to Africa, Paul VI stated: "We deplore the fact that, in certain parts of the world, there persist social situations based upon racial discrimination and often willed and sustained by systems of thought; such situations constitute a manifest and inadmissible affront to the fundamental rights of the human person" [Paul VI, Speech in Uganda 1 Aug 1969]. In his last address two years ago to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, he emphasized again that the Church is "concerned by the aggravation of racial and tribal rivalries which instigate division and rancour", and he denounced the "attempt to create juridical and political foundations in violation of the principles of universal suffrage and the self-determination of peoples" [14 Jan 1978].

The truth about man in Africa demands from me on this occasion that I should confirm these statements. And this I do with deep and strong conviction. Progress has been made with regard to some situations, and for this we are grateful to God. But there still remain too many instances of institutionalised discrimination on the basis of racial differences, and these I cannot abstain from exposing before world opinion. Nor let us forget in this regard the need to combat racist reactions which may surface in connection with the migration of people from the countryside to the urban centres, or from one country to another. Racial discrimination is evil, no matter how it is practised, no matter who does it or why.

8. Still within the context of the whole African continent, I would like to draw attention to a problem that is of such urgency that it must indeed mobilize the necessary solidarity and compassion for its solution: I refer to the question of the refugees in many regions of Africa.

Large numbers of people have been compelled for a variety of reasons to leave the country they love and the place where they have their roots. Sometimes this is for political reasons, at other times it is to escape from violence or war, or as a consequence of natural disasters, or because of a hostile climate. The African community and the world community must not cease to be concerned about the condition of the refugees and by the terrible sufferings to which they are subjected, many of them for a very long time. These refugees truly have a right to freedom and to lives worthy of their human dignity. They must not be deprived of the enjoyment of their rights, certainly not when factors beyond their own control have forced them to become strangers without a homeland.

I therefore appeal to all the authorities to ensure that in their own nation rightful freedom is always offered to all citizens, so that nobody will have to go looking for it elsewhere. I appeal to the authorities of the nations whose borders the refugees are compelled to cross, to receive them with cordial hospitality. I appeal to the international community not to let the burden weigh solely on the countries where the refugees temporarily settle, but to make the necessary aid available to the Governments concerned and to the appropriate international bodies.

9. The presence in this City of Nairobi of such organizations as the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements or Habitat draws our attention to another problem area, that of the total human environment. Man, in his aspiration to satisfy his needs and to achieve better living conditions, has created an increasing number of environmental problems. Urban and industrial expansion aggravate these problems, especially when its victims are the very weak often living in "poverty belts", lacking elementary services and normal chances for improvement. I praise the efforts of all those who are trying to increase awareness that rational and honest planning are needed to avoid or redress such situations.

10. The Holy See greets with great satisfaction every effort that is being made to achieve better collaboration among the African countries in order to further their development, to promote their dignity and fuller independence, and to secure their rightful share in the management of the world, while at the same time strengthening their commitment to bear their share of collective responsibility for the poor and underprivileged of the planet.

The Organization of African Unity, together with all other bodies which pursue an aim of greater collaboration among the African nations, is deserving of every encouragement. The Holy See was pleased to be invited by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa to establish closer relations, through the participation of Observers at the meetings of the Commission and its subsidiary bodies. It remains ready to extend to other African organizations similar, collaboration, in accordance with its own nature and universal mission, and motivated only by the demands of its evangelical message of peace, justice and service to all humanity and to every human being.

11. It is my fervent hope that the free and independent nations of Africa will always assume their rightful place in the family of nations. In the quest for international peace, justice and unity, Africa has an important role to play. Africa constitutes a real treasure-house of so many authentic human values. It is called upon to share these values with other peoples and nations, and so to enrich the whole human family and all other cultures. But in order to be able to do so, Africa must remain deeply faithful to itself; day after day it must become ever more faithful to its own heritage, not because of opposition and antagonism towards others, but because it believes in the truth about itself.

This same truth about Africa must enlighten the whole international community, so that every nation and Government will see more clearly the rights and the needs of this continent,: and assume a more determined political will towards enabling the African nations not only to satisfy the basic needs of their people, but also to advance effectively towards their full share of human well-being, without having to accept new forms of dependence linked to the aid they receive.

12. It will be to the glory of this continent and this nation to create a form of progress for all its inhabitants that is fully in harmony with the whole human being. The true model for progress is not one that extols material values only, but one that recognizes the priority of the spiritual. Great and rapid changes are taking place in the social fabric of many nations working towards a better future for their citizens. But no social change will constitute a true and lasting enrichment of the people if it sacrifices or loses the supreme values of the spirit.

Development will be one-sided and lacking in humanity if materialism, the profit motive or the selfish pursuit of wealth or of power takes the place of the values that are so highly practised in African society - values such as mutual concern, solidarity, and the recognition of God’s presence in all life.

A growing sense of brotherhood, of social love, of justice, the banishing of every form of discrimination and oppression, the fostering of individual and collective responsibility, respect for the sanctity of human life from its very conception, the preservation of a strong family spirit - these will be the hallmarks of successful development and the strength of the people as they more towards the third millennium.

13. Ladies and Gentlemen, in the pursuit of the well-being of peoples and nations, choices have to be made constantly. There are choices to be made on the basis of political principles and priorities, on the basis of economic laws, or in the light of practical necessities. But there is one choice that must always be made, whatever the context or the field: it is a fundamental choice - the choice for or against humanity. Whatever his or her responsibility or authority is, nobody escapes this choice: Shall we work for the good of man or against it? Will the total good of the human person be the ultimate criterion for our actions and our programmes? Will the African in his human dignity be the path towards a just and peaceful future of this continent?

It is my hope that he will.

Long live Africa!"

Papa San Giovanni Paolo II's homily at Holy Mass 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
1. We gather here today to give praise and glory to our heavenly Father. We come together in this place, men and women of many different backgrounds, and yet all united in him "who holds all things in unity” , all united at the table of God’s word and at the altar of Sacrifice.

My heart is filled with gratitude to God for this day and for this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist with you, to sing praise to the Lord for having reconciled everything to himself, "making peace by his death on the cross" .

On the day Jesus was crucified, he told Pilate: "I was born for this, I came into the world for this: to bear witness to the truth ". Jesus came not to do his own will but the will of his heavenly Father. By his words, by his deeds, by his very existence he bore witness to the truth. In Jesus the tyranny of deceit and falsehood, the tyranny of lies and error, the tyranny of sin was defeated. For Christ is the living Word of divine truth who promised: "If you make my word your home you will indeed be my disciples, you will learn the truth and the truth will make you free" .

2. The Church has received this same mission from Christ: to cultivate a deep love and veneration for the truth and to combine with faith the insights of learning and human wisdom - in all things to bear witness to the truth. In every age and in every land the Church proceeds in this mission, confident that if God is the supreme source of all truth, there can be no opposition between natural wisdom and the truths of faith.

All of the faithful, dear brothers and sisters, have a role to play in the Church’s mission on behalf of truth. That is why I stated in my Encyclical that the "Church’s responsibility for divine truth must be increasingly shared in various ways by all, including the specialists in various disciplines, those who represent the natural sciences and letters, doctors, jurists, artists and technicians, teachers at various levels and with different specializations. As members of the; People of God, they all have their own part to play in Christ’s prophetic mission and service of divine truth” . Within the communion of the faithful, and especially within the local Christian community, careful attention should be given to this responsibility to bear witness to the truth. In his Message to Africa my predecessor Paul VI addressed a special word to the intellectuals of this continent, precisely because he was convinced of the importance of their mission at the service of truth. And his words still ring out today: "Africa needs you, your study, your research, your art and your teaching.... You are the prism through which the new ideas and cultural changes can be interpreted and explained to all. Be sincere, faithful to truth and loyal" .

3. We must begin our witness to truth by cultivating a hunger for the word of God, a desire to receive and take to heart the life-giving message of the Gospel in all its fullness. When you listen attentively to the voice of the Saviour and then put in into practice, you are indeed sharing in the Church’s mission at the service of truth. You are bearing witness to the world that you firmly believe the promise God made through Isaiah: "As the rain and the snow come down from the heavens and do not return without watering the earth, making it yield and giving growth to provide seed for the sower and bread for the eating, so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do" . You can be messengers of the truth only if you are first of all true listeners to God’s word.

4. When Pilate asked Jesus whether he was a king, his response was clear and unambiguous: "Mine is not a kingdom of this world" . Christ came to bring life and salvation to every human being: his mission was not in the social, economic or political order. Likewise Christ did not give the Church a mission which is social, economic or political; but rather a religious one . Yet it would be a mistake to think that the individual Christian should not be involved in these areas of life in society. On this point, the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council were very clear: "One of the gravest errors of our time is the dichotomy between the faith which many profess and the practice of their daily lives... The Christian who neglects his temporal duties neglects his duties towards his neighbour, neglects God himself, and endangers his eternal salvation” .

Christians therefore, and especially you who are laity, are called by God to be involved in the world in order to transform it according to the Gospel. In carrying out this task, your own personal commitment to truth and honesty plays an important role, because a sense of responsibility for the truth is one of the fundamental points of encounter between the Church and society, between the Church and each man and woman . The Christian faith does not provide you with ready made solutions to the complex problems affecting contemporary society. But it does give you deep insights into the nature of man and his needs, calling you to speak the truth in love, to take up your responsibilities as good citizens and to work with your neighbours to build a society where true human values are nourished and deepened by a shared Christian vision of life.

5. One of these areas which holds a very important place in society and in the total vocation of every human person is culture. "It is a fact bearing on the very person of man that he can come to an authentic and full humanity only through culture, that is, through the cultivation of natural goods and values. Wherever human life therefore is involved, nature and culture are very intimately connected” . A Christian will gladly collaborate in the promotion of true culture, for he knows that the Good News of Christ reinforces in man the spiritual values which are at the heart of the culture of every people and of every period of history. The Church, which feels at home in every culture, without exclusively making her own any culture, encourages her sons and daughters who are active in schools, universities and other institutions of learning to give their best to this activity. By harmonizing those values which are the unique heritage of each people or group with the content of the Gospel, the Christian will help his or her own people to achieve true freedom and the capacity to face the challenges of the times. Every Christian, united with Christ in the mystery of Baptism, will endeavour to conform to the Father’s plan for his Son: "to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” .

6. Another important challenge for the Christian is that of the political life. In the State citizens have a right and duty to share in the political life. For a nation can ensure the common good of all, and the dreams and aspirations of its different members, only to the extent that all citizens in full liberty and with complete responsibility make their contributions willingly and selflessly for the good of all.

The duties of the good Christian citizen involve more than shunning corruption, more than not exploiting others; these duties include positively contributing to the establishment of just laws and structures that foster human values. If the Christian finds injustice or anything that militates against love, peace and unity in society, he or she must ask: "Where have I fallen short? What have I done wrong? What did I fail to do that the truth of my vocation called me to do? Did I sin by omission?"

7. Here today in Kenya, as I have done many times before, I wish to address a particular message to married couples and to families. The family is the fundamental human community; it is the first and vital cell of any society. Thus the strength and vitality of any country will only be as great as the strength and vitality of the family within that country. No group has a greater impact on a country than the family. No group has a more influential role in the future of the world.

For this reason, Christian couples have an irreplaceable mission in today’s world. The generous love and fidelity of husband and wife offer stability and hope to a world torn by hatred and division. By their lifelong perseverance in life-giving love they show the unbreakable and sacred character of the sacramental marriage bond. At the same time it is the Christian family that most simply and profoundly promotes the dignity and worth of human life from the moment of conception.

The Christian family is also the domestic sanctuary of the Church. In a Christian home various aspects of the whole Church are found, such as mutual love, attentiveness to God’s word and prayer together. The home is a place where the Gospel is received and lived, and the place from which the Gospel radiates. Thus the family offers daily witness, even without words, to the truth and grace of the word of God. For this reason, I stated in my Encyclical "Married people... must endeavour with all their strength to persevere in their matrimonial union, building up the family community through the witness of love and educating new generations of men and women capable in their turn of dedicating the whole of their lives to their vocation, that is to say, to the ‘kingly service’ of which Jesus Christ has offered us the example and the most beautiful model” .

8. Beloved brothers and sisters: all the families that make up the Church and all the individuals that make up the families - all of us together are called to walk with Christ, bearing witness to his truth in the circumstances of our daily lives. In doing this we can permeate society with the leaven of the Gospel, which alone can transform it into Christ’s Kingdom - a Kingdom of truth and life, a Kingdom of holiness and grace, a Kingdom of justice, love and peace! Amen."

Papa San Juan Pablo II's words to Carmelite Sisters 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Sisters in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. Being your neighbour for two days, I could not fail to come and visit your Carmel. It gives me great joy to know that, near the house of the Pope’s Representative, there is a house of prayer where God’s praises are constantly sung and where the sacrifice of your cloistered life is offered in joyful generosity to the Father. The fact that other contemplative communities in Kenya have gathered here with you gives me added joy. My dear Sisters, I bring you the greetings and love of the whole Church, and I thank you for your contribution to evangelization and for the inspiration of your lives. Yes, it is a great tribute to the grace of God and to the power of the death and Resurrection of the Lord that many years ago the contemplative religious life took root in African soil, bringing forth abundant fruits of justice and holiness of life. You are indeed the recipients of a particular gift from God: the contemplative vocation in the Church. The introduction of the contemplative life in a local Church is an important indication of the dynamic implantation of the Gospel in the heart of a people. This is a sign which, together with missionary activity, shows the maturity of the local Church. To live the holiness of Christ and to share the ardent desire of his heart - "I must preach the Good News of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose" [Lk 4, 43] - these are hallmarks of Christ’ Church.

2. Here in the heart of Kenya you are called to fulfil your exalted mission in the Body of Christ: to perpetuate Christ’s life of prayer and loving immolation. The Church has learned from her Founder - and centuries of experience have confirmed her profound conviction - that union with God is vitally necessary for fruitful activity. Jesus has told us: "I am the vine, you are the branches... apart from me you can do nothing" [Jn 15, 5].

The Church is deeply aware, and without hesitation she forcefully proclaims, that there is an intimate connection between prayer and the spreading of the Kingdom of God, between prayer and the conversion of hearts, between prayer and the fruitful reception of the saving and uplifting Gospel message. This alone is enough to assure you and all contemplative religious throughout the world just how necessary your role is in the Church, just how important your service is to your people, just how great your contribution is to the evangelization of Kenya and all Africa.

3. In your lives of prayer, moreover, Christ’s praise of his Eternal Father goes on. The totality of his love for his Father and of his obedience to the Father’s will is reflected in your own radical consecration of love. His selfless immolation for his Body, the Church, finds expression in the offering of your lives in union with his sacrifice. The renunciation involved in your vocation shows the primacy of Christ’s love in your lives. In you the Church gives witness to her fundamental function, which is, as I said in my Encyclical: “To point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God...” [Redemptor Hominis, 10].

4. Your lives and your activities are very much a part of the whole Church; they are in the Church and for the Church. You live in the very heart of the Church as did Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and so many other contemplative nuns throughout the Church’s. And as you pursue your vocation in fidelity to the Christ who called you, you remain spiritually very close to your families and the communities from which you come.

As you live out your lives totally for Jesus Christ, your spouse, and for all who have been called to life in him - the entire Christian family - you can rightly feel near to all your brothers and sisters as they strive for salvation and the fullness of human dignity. In your lives of material detachment and in the earnest work that you perform each day, you show your solidarity with the whole working community to whose service you are called. And through your prayers and the fruitfulness of your spiritual activities you are in a position to contribute effectively to the great cause of justice and peace and to the human advancement of countless men and women. Through your cloistered lives children are brought to Christ, the sick are comforted, the needy assisted, human hearts reconciled and the poor have the Gospel preached to them.

In certain places in Africa, a monastery of contemplative religious has been established in the vicinity of the major seminary. Is it not especially meaningful that those who saw the necessity of promoting vocations to the priesthood, so as to enable the young churches to become fully implanted in the native soil, also professed their conviction that only the grace of God, humbly sought in constant prayer, could sustain the fervour of the priesthood? I ask you therefore, as a special request on this occasion, to make it one of the primary intentions of your prayers, to beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest [cf Mt 9, 38], and to bless his Church in Africa with many good, generous, and committed priests, whose example of a holy and truly pastoral life constitutes the best guarantee for the life of the Church and the propagation of the faith.

5. Yours is then a truly important life of faith in Jesus Christ. In the words of Saint Peter: without having seen him, you love him; though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy [1 Pet 1, 8]. And precisely because of this, your lives become lives of great service to the Church. With Mary you are called to meditate on the word of God, and to cooperate in bringing forth to spiritual life those who believe in Christ. For you therefore the future is clear. You are on the right path - the path of total joyful consecration to Jesus Christ and of loving service to all your brothers and sisters in Africa and throughout the Church.

Dear Sisters: in all your efforts to walk with Mary and to ascend the mountain that is Christ by loving more deeply and serving more generously, remember that "your life is hid with Christ in God" [Col 3, 3] for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Pope St John Paul II's address to the President of Kenya 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Mr President,
1. I wish to express my gratitude to you for your invitation to the State House. I am very pleased to have a meeting with Your Excellency and to be able to greet so many distinguished personages of your nation. The few hours I have already spent in Kenya have enabled me to experience for myself traditional African hospitality, which is a deeply human and warm reality.

In addressing you today, and through you the whole Nation of Kenya, I consider it fitting to pay tribute in the first place to the memory of the Founding Father of this Republic, the late President, Mzee Jomo Kenyatta, who completed his life of service to his people less than two years ago. In the eulogy which you delivered during the State funeral of the one you called "my father, my teacher and my leader", you summed up the meaning of his contribution in the following words: "In life, Mzee Kenyatta championed justice and equality. He advocated respect for human dignity and the preservation of our culture. His concern for the welfare of all Kenyans was deep and binding. We are all indebted to him...". During the early years of this nation, he achieved unity, created a spirit of brotherhood, and instilled the determination to go on building the nation through the common efforts of all. He left to Kenya a beautiful heritage and a challenging programme.

2. Respect for human dignity, for the dignity of every man, woman and child, for the dignity that all human beings possess not because it has been conferred on them by their fellowmen but because they have received it from God: this is the fundamental attitude to be adopted if real progress is to be made. It is precisely in this conviction and in this commitment to the dignity of every human being that the Church and the State find themselves on the same path.

I know, Mr President, that on many occasions you have publicly expressed your appreciation of the contribution which the Catholic Church in your country makes to the advancement of the peoples. This, together with the existence of good relations between your nation and the Holy See, together also with the collaboration which exists in the field of education, health care and other areas of human development, is reason for much satisfaction. It also augurs well for the future.

3. On this occasion, I wish to repeat that the Church is deeply concerned for all the needs of the people. Precisely because she values so highly the dignity of every human being, the Church will always continue to exercise her mission, in accordance with her own nature, for the real good of man and society, and for the benefit of the whole human person.

In this spirit, the Church contributes to development, unity, brotherhood and peace among people and among nations. For this reason, the Church will raise her voice and call upon her sons and daughters every time that the conditions of life of individuals and communities are not truly human, every time they are not in` accord with human dignity. This too is a reason why I have undertaken my first journey through the African continent: to proclaim the dignity and basic equality of all human beings and their right to the full development of their personality in every sphere, material as well as spiritual.

Mr President, I should like this brief meeting with you and with all your distinguished guests to be for each and every one, for all the people of Kenya, a fraternal encouragement to advance along the people of Kenya, a fraternal May God, the Creator of man and nature, accompany you in your endeavours to lead Kenya forward, to build a prosperous Africa, and to construct a world community in unity, justice and peace."

John Paul II's words to Muslim Leaders 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Friends,
1. During my visit to Kenya I am very pleased to be able to greet a group of Muslim leaders. Your coming here today is deeply appreciated as an expression of your fraternal courtesy and respect.

Be assured that I reciprocate these sentiments in your regard and towards all the Muslim people of this land.

2. On other occasions I have spoken of the religious patrimony of Islam and of its spiritual values. The Catholic Church realizes that the element of worship given to the one, living, subsistent, merciful and almighty Creator of heaven and earth is common to Islam and herself, and that it is a great link uniting all Christians and Muslims. With great satisfaction she also notes, among other elements of Islam which are held in common, the honour attributed to Jesus Christ and his Virgin Mother. As the Catholic Church makes every effort to sustain religious dialogue with Islam on the basis of existing bonds, which she endeavours ever more to reflect on, she likewise extends the invitation that her own heritage be fully known, especially to those who are spiritually attached to Abraham, and who profess monotheism.

3. On my part I wish therefore to do everything possible to help develop the spiritual bonds between Christians and Muslims.

Prayer, almsgiving and fasting are highly valued in both of our respective traditions and are beyond doubt a splendid witness to a world that runs the risk of being absorbed by materialism. Our relationship of reciprocal esteem and the mutual desire for authentic service to humanity urge us on to joint commitments in promoting peace, social justice, moral values and all the true freedoms of man.

4. It is in this perspective that our meeting today offers us much hope. May it prove beneficial to humanity and give glory to God, who made us in his image and likeness, and who has revealed himself to us.

With renewed sentiments of brotherhood I would ask you to carry my greetings to all the communities from which you come. Thank you again."

John Paul II's greetings to the Hindu Community 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Friends,
The presence here today of members of the Hindu community gives me great pleasure. In visiting the people of Kenya, I am happy to become acquainted with all those who live in this land and have a part in the life of this nation.

Your own roots are found in the venerable history of Asia, for which I have much respect and esteem. In greeting you I willingly recall the fact that the Second Vatican Council, in its Declaration “Nostra Aetate” manifested the fraternal attitude of the whole Catholic Church to non-Christian religions. In this she showed her task of fostering unity and love among individuals and nations and her commitment to advance fellowship among all human beings. Special reference in the document was made to Hinduism and to the religious values embraced by its followers.

And today the Catholic Church is willingly associated with all her brethren in a dialogue on the mystery of man and the mystery of God. The purpose of life, the nature of good, the path to happiness, the meaning of death and the end of our human journey - all these truths form the object of our common service of man in his many needs, and to the promotion of his full human dignity.

And under the sign of this human dignity and brotherhood I greet you today with sincerity and fraternal love."

Pope St John Paul II words with other Christian Churches & Communities 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear brothers and sisters from the Christian Churches
and Communities of Kenya,
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" [Rom 1, 7].

1. I have come to Kenya to be with the Bishops and people of the Catholic Church, since my task as Bishop of Rome is a fraternal service of unity to support them in their fidelity to the Gospel and in their life in the one Catholic Communion. Humbly I see it as part of this ministry that I should also come to greet you, "holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call" [Heb 3, 1], for, despite those factors that still divide us, we are nevertheless linked by a real fellowship that remains true even though it is still imperfect [cf Unitatis Redintegratio, 3].

2. Because of this one Baptism, in which we profess one basic faith that Jesus is Lord and that God raised him from the dead [cf Rom 10, 9], we stand together before the world of today with a common responsibility which stems from obedience to Christ. This common responsibility is so real and so important that it must impel us to do all we can, as a matter of urgency, to resolve the divisions that still exist between us, so that we may fulfil the will of Christ for the perfect unity of his followers.

Without full organic unity, Christians are unable to give a satisfactory witness to Christ, and their division remains a scandal to the world, and especially to the young Churches in mission lands.

Your presence here testifies to a deep insight: that especially in the young Churches of Africa, in a continent that hungers and thirsts for God - a longing that can be fulfilled only in Christ - the common apostolic faith in Christ the Saviour must be held and manifested, for in Christ there can be no division. Your presence, together with the sincere ecumenical efforts which are developing, show our common desire for full unity. For truly the credibility of the Gospel message and of Christ himself is linked to Christian unity.

3. This is why, at international level, many of your Churches are now engaged in a theological dialogue with the Catholic Church - a dialogue that is already offering new hope for much greater understanding among us. This is also why, here in Kenya, the Christian people are striving to reach one mind in the faith of Christ. For whether they live in Africa or in Europe, in Asia or in America, Christians are the heirs of sad divisions. These divisions have to be first faced in a dialogue of mutual understanding and esteem, "speaking the truth in love" [Eph 4, 15] and then dealt with in accordance with the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

This task is, I repeat, an urgent one. Jesus calls us to bear witness to him and to his saving work.

We can do this adequately only when we are completely united in faith and when we speak his word with one voice, a voice that rings with that warm vitality which characterizes the whole Christian community when it lives together in full communion.

4. Our divisions impair that vitality and prevent our neigbours from hearing the Gospel as they should. And yet, even now, thanks to what we already have in common, it is possible for us, despite those divisions, to give a sincere even if limited witness together before a world that so sorely needs to hear that message of love and hope which is the Good News of the salvation won for all mankind by Jesus Christ, who "was crucified in weakness but lives by the power of God" [2 Cor 13, 4]. It is possible for us to collaborate frequently in the cause of the Gospel. Although we cannot yet do everything together - especially the fullness of Eucharistic worship - we can still accomplish much together.

Wherever possible, then, let us find ways of engaging in acts of common witness, be it in joint Bible work, in promoting human rights and meeting human needs, in theological dialogue, in praying together when opportunity allows - as it does so beautifully today - or in speaking to others about Jesus Christ and his salvation. As we do these things we must continue to ask the Holy Spirit for light and strength to conform perfectly to God’s holy will for his Church.

5. The task that faces Christians as we near the end of the twentieth century is indeed a mighty challenge, and it is good to see how much is already being done by divine grace to respond to it.

May this response grow and develop in every part of the world. It is in this hope that I earnestly pray to God our Father that the Churches and Communities you represent, and the All African Council of Churches and the Christian Council of Kenya, of which so many of you are members, may be ever more faithful servants of Christ’s will that all of us who believe in him may be one even as he and his Father are one. May you "stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel" [Phil 1, 27] for the glory of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

St John Paul II address to the Bishops of other African Countries 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"My dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. It is a great pleasure for me to greet you here today. You have come as visitors to Kenya to show your solidarity with your brother Bishops and with their people. Since this is an extraordinary ecclesial celebration for them, you have wished to be close to them in the joy of the faith. In coming, you have brought with you not only the fellowship of your own local Churches, but a special manifestation of Catholic unity. And because you are members of the universal College of Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, you bear collective pastoral responsibility for the good of the whole Church and for her pastoral activities throughout the world. Hence, with an awareness of the deep reality of the Episcopate you have gathered in prayerful and fraternal solidarity.

2. Our being together today evokes quite naturally a consideration of our common ministry, our shared responsibility and our common likeness to Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word and the High Priest of the New Testament.

In Jesus Christ the Son of God we find a fundamental insight into our deepest Christian identity. In Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd we have a full perception - in simplicity and profundity - of all pastoral ministry in the Church of God. In Jesus Christ the Suffering Servant we discern the complete meaning of a sacrificial life. In Jesus Christ the Risen Lord we comprehend the final goal of the Paschal Mystery - to which all our preaching and catechesis are directed.

3. All I wish to do in these moments with you is to direct my thoughts and yours to Jesus Christ - to him who is Unigenitus Dei Filius, but who has become Primogenitus in multis fratribus [Rom 8, 29]. This Son of God, this Son of Mary, this Priest and Victim of Redemption explains us to ourselves and declares the meaning of our ministry today and always: "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" [Heb 13, 8].

As he called his Apostles, so he has also called us: to be his companions, to remain in his love, and to proclaim his Gospel. And in our full pastoral role as successors of the Apostles we are called to communicate Christ to our people. Sharing in his Sonship by divine adoption, we are instruments of grace for others, as we lead our people to the fullness of his life revealed in the mystery of the Church, the Body of Christ.

4. Our identity and our mission, as well as the term of our mission, are all linked to Christ in his Sonship; we are conformed to him. Because of this likeness to Christ, we have great joy and comfort in living two dynamic aspects of Christ’s life. With Christ we are conscious of loving the Father; his words pervade our consciousness and our daily activity as Bishops: "I love the Father" [Jn 14, 30].

At the same time each of us in Christ can say: "The Father loves me", precisely because Jesus has said: "the Father loves the Son" [Jn 3, 35]. This awareness of being in Christ, of loving his Father and being loved by him is a source of pastoral strength. It confirms the meaning of our lives. It is a reason for thanksgiving to the Father and for endless praise of Jesus Christ.

Dear brother Bishops: -In the months and years ahead, may it bring us gladness to recall that in Kenya we manifested our episcopal unity together by praising Jesus Christ the Eternal Son of God.

To him be glory for ever, with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

Pope St John Paul II address to the Bishops of Kenya 
Nairobi, Wednesday 7 May 1980 - also in French, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Venerable and dear Brothers in our Lord Jesus Christ,
1. Today during this easter season it is a cause of deep joy and a source of pastoral strength for us to assemble in Nairobi, to gather together in the name of Jesus who said: "I am the resurrection and the life" [Jn 11, 25].

We are extremely conscious that our ministry in Africa and our service to the universal Church is placed under the sign of the Risen Christ. For, together with all our brother Bishops throughout the world, we are successors of the Body of Apostles that was chosen to witness to the Resurrection.

The knowledge that "with great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus" [Acts 4, 33] truly strengthens us and uplifts us, because we know that we have received the inheritance of the Apostolic College. For us Bishops this is an hour of trust in the Risen Lord, an hour of Easter joy, an hour of great hope for the future of Africa.

2. On this occasion my thoughts go to all the Bishops of Africa, and I note with deep satisfaction that the members of the Episcopal Conference of Kenya are resolutely engaged in many programmes of collaboration and joint action with their fellow Bishops from the AMECEA countries of Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, the Sudan and Ethiopia. In the abundant strength that comes from charity and mutual support, your ministry is sustained and enriched. Be assured of my admiration and esteem for the unity that you express in diversity and in fraternal collaboration, and for your concerted efforts on behalf of the evangelization of those countries that have so much in common.

An initiative worthy of particular mention is AMECEA’s Pastoral Institute at Eldoret. This Institute offers special opportunities to reflect on the Church’s mission to guard and teach ever more effectively the word of God. The Holy Spirit himself is directing the Church in Africa to scrutinize "the signs of the times" in the light of the sacred deposit of God’s word as it is proclaimed by the Magisterium. It is only on this sound basis that true answers can be found to the real problems that touch people’s lives. It is in judging according to this sacred norm that the Bishops will exercise their personal responsibility to evaluate what pastoral activities and solutions are valid for Africa today.

3. Venerable Brothers, the episcopal ministry is a ministry at the service of life, bringing the power of the Resurrection to your people, so that they may "walk in newness of life" [Rom 6, 4] , so that they may be ever more aware of the Christian life to which they are called by virtue of their Baptism, and so that in their daily lives - in the setting of Africa - they may have fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ in the unity of the Holy Spirit. And because this fellowship is fully achieved only in heaven, your ministry likewise involves a clear proclamation of eternal life.

4. As Successor of Peter in the See of Rome and as your brother in the College of Bishops, I have come to Africa to encourage you in your efforts as pastors of the flock: in the efforts of each of you to offer to Christ a local Church in which unity reigns between the Bishop and the priests, the religious and the laity; in your efforts to enlighten communities with the Gospel and make them vibrant with the life of Christ; in your efforts to bring the dynamic power of the Resurrection into human life and by it to transform and elevate all levels of society.

I have come to confirm you in your total acceptance of God’s holy word as it is authentically proclaimed by the Catholic Church at all times and in all places. I wish to support you in the conviction, so splendidly expressed by the Bishops of Kenya in their Pastoral Letter of 27 April 1979, that fidelity to the teachings of Christ and the Magisterium of his Church is truly in the interests of the people. By following your clear insights of faith you showed yourselves true pastors of the flock, exercising real spiritual leadership when you declared: "We, your Bishops, would do a disservice to the people if we did not expect of them the goodness and the fidelity that they are capable of by the grace of God" . Your greatest contribution to your people and to all Africa is indeed the gift of God’s word, the acceptance of which is the basis for all community and the condition for all progress.

5. As the Sersus Servorum Dei I have come to uphold with you the priorities of your ministry. In the first place I offer my support for your pastoral efforts on behalf of the family - the African family. The great African tradition is faithful to so many family values, and to life itself, which takes its origin in the family. A profound respect for the family and for the good of children is a distinctive gift of Africa to the world. It is in the family that each generation learns to absorb these values and to transmit them. And the whole Church appreciates everything you do to preserve this heritage of your people, to purify it and uplift it in the sacramental fullness of Christ’s new and original teaching.

Hence we see the great value of presenting the Christian family in its relationship to the Most Holy Trinity, and of maintaining the Christian ideal in its evangelical purity. It is the divine law proclaimed by Christ that gives rise to the Christian ideal of monogamous marriage, which in turn is the basis for the Christian family.

Only a week before he died, my predecessor John Paul I spoke to a group of Bishops in these words, which I consider very relevant here today in Africa: "Let us never grow tired of proclaiming the family as a community of love: conjugal love unites the couple and is procreative of new life; it mirrors the divine love, is communicated, and in the words of ‘Gaudium et Spes’, is actually a sharing in the covenant of love of Christ and his Church".

Be assured of my solidarity with you in this great task involving the diligent preparation of the young for marriage, the repeated proclamation of the unity and indissolubility of marriage, and the renewed invitation to the faithful to accept and foster with faith and love the Catholic celebration of the sacrament of marriage. Success in a pastoral programme of this nature requires patience and perseverance and a strong conviction that Christ has come to "make all things new" [Apoc 21, 5] .

Know also that in all your efforts to build up strong united families, in which human love reflects divine love and in which the education of children is embraced with a true sense of mission, you have the support of the universal Church. With the love and sensitivity of pastors, you have well illustrated the great principle that any pastoral approach that does not rest on the doctrinal foundation of the word of God is illusory.

Hence with true pastoral charity you have faced various problems affecting human life, and repeated the Church’s teaching at the true service of man. You have clearly insisted, for example, on the most fundamental human right: the right to life from the moment of conception; you have effectively reiterated the Church’s position on abortion, sterilization and contraception. Your faithful upholding of the Church’s teaching contained in the Encyclical "Humanae Vitae" has been the expression of your pastoral concern and your profound attachment to the integral values of the human person.

Every effort to make society sensitive to the importance of the family is a great service to humanity.

When the full dignity of parents and children is realized and is expressed in prayer, a new power for good is unleashed throughout the Church and the world. John Paul I expressed this eloquently when he said: “The holiness of the Christian family is indeed a most apt means for producing the serene renewal of the Church which the Council so eagerly desired. Through family prayer, the ecclesia domestica becomes an effective reality and leads to the transformation of the world".

Upon you, Brethren, rest the hope and trust of the universal Church for the defence and promotion of the African family, both parents and children. The Holy Spirit of truth, who has implanted so many values in the hearts of the African people, will never cease to assist you as pastors in bringing the teaching of Jesus ever more effectively into the lives of your brothers and sisters. We need never be afraid to preach the fullness of his message in all its evangelical purity, for, as I stated on another occasion: "Let us never fear that the challenge is too great for our people: they were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ; they are his people. Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ vindicates to himself the final responsibility for the acceptance of his word and for the growth of his Church. It is he, Jesus Christ, who will continue to give the grace to his people to meet the requirements of his word, despite all difficulties, despite all weaknesses. And it is up to us to continue to proclaim the message of salvation in its entirety and purity, with patience, compassion and the conviction that what is impossible with man is possible with God".

6. Another great priority of your ministry is catechesis: developing the initial faith of your people and bringing them to the fullness of Christian life. I am close to you, in praise and encouragement, in every undertaking of yours to communicate Christ, to make his Gospel incarnate in the lives and culture of your people. In union with the universal Church, and in openness to the patrimony of her long history, you are striving to lead your people in the reality of their daily lives to look to Christ for light and strength. The aim of your local Churches is to have the faithful living through, with and in Christ. Your efforts, in which you rightfully endeavour to associate the whole community - and in a special way the catechists - must have constant reference to Christ: to his divine Person, his Spirit, and his Gospel.

The "acculturation" or "inculturation" which you rightly promote will truly be a reflection of the Incarnation of the Word, when a culture, transformed and regenerated by the Gospel, brings forth from its own living tradition original expressions of Christian life, celebration and thought [cf Catechesi Tradendae, 53]. By respecting, preserving and fostering the particular values and riches of your people’s cultural heritage, you will be in a position to lead them to a better understanding of the mystery of Christ, which is to be lived in the noble, concrete and daily experiences of African life. There is no question of adulterating the word of God, or of emptying the Cross of its power [cf 1 ir 1, 17], but rather of bringing Christ into the very centre of African life and of lifting up all African life to Christ. Thus not only is Christianity relevant to Africa, but Christ, in the members of his Body, is himself African.

7. Again, with good reason, you attribute great pastoral importance to the proper formation of priests and religious, as well as to fostering these vocations in the Church. This attitude is an expression of your deep understanding of the needs of the Body of Christ.

Since the beginning of my pontificate I have striven to point out the importance of religious consecration in the Church and the value of religious life as it affects the whole community of the faithful. Religious have the task of showing forth the holiness of the whole Body of Christ and of bearing witness to a new and eternal life acquired by the Redemption of Christ [cf Lumen Gentium, 44]. At the same time they are called to many different apostolates in the Church. Their service in the Gospel is very necessary for the life of the Church. Missionary Religious in Kenya have laboured with great fidelity in the cause of the Gospel; only the Lord Jesus can adequately thank them and reward them for what has been accomplished for the implantation of the Church. Their mission now goes on side by side with their Kenyan fellow Religious, who have heard the call of Christ and are working generously for the cause of the Gospel. The future of evangelization in this land will continue to owe much to the men and women Religious, both autochthonous and from abroad.

I have likewise sought to draw attention to the essential nature, role and function of the priesthood in its unchanging relationship to the Eucharist, which is the summit of all evangelization [cf Presbyterorum Ordinis, 5].

In particular I wish to confirm the vital importance for the Christian people of having their priests properly trained in the word of God, in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ and his Cross. In the divine plan, the transmission of the life-giving Gospel of Christ is linked with the preparation of the priests of this generation. To provide this proper seminary training is one of our greatest responsibilities as Bishops of the Church of God; it can be one of our most effective contributions to the evangelization of the world.

8. An important element that affects every community in the Church is the unity and cooperation between Bishops and priests. By reason of his ordination, the priest is "a co-worker with the Order of Bishop", and to live out the truth of this vocation he is called to collaborate with the Bishop and to pray for him. To explain the unity of the priests with the Bishop, Saint Ignatius of Antioch compared it to the relationship between the strings and the lute. [Letter to Ephesians, IV]

On the part of the Bishop this relationship requires that he should be close to his priests as a brother and father and friend. As such he must love them and encourage them, not only in their pastoral activities, but in their lives of personal consecration. The Bishop is called to strengthen his priests in faith and to urge them to look constantly to Christ the Good Shepherd, in order that they may realize ever more their priestly identity and dignity.

The Church renews her debt of gratitude to all the missionary and "Fidei Donum" priests who are labouring in the cause of Christ’s Gospel. Their generosity is an expression of the power of Christ’s grace, and their ministry is a great proof of Catholic unity.

9. In the building up of the Church I am aware of your sustained work to build small Christian communities in which the word of God is the guideline of action and in which the Eucharist is the true centre of life. The whole community of the faithful benefits from these initiatives that make it possible for people to recognize the Church in her concrete expression and human dimension as a visible sacrament of God’s universal love and saving grace. It is certainly the will of Jesus Christ that the love of Christians should be manifested in such a way that individual communities exemplify the universal norm: "By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" [Jn 13, 35]. In your pastoral zeal you know the wise criteria laid down by Paul VI and which remain a sure guide for the effectiveness of these communities [cf Evangelii Nuntiandi, 58]. At this time I would just stress the great power which those communities have to fulfil an active ecclesial role in the evangelization of Africa.

May they go forward with you, their pastors, and with the priests, to communicate “the unsearchable riches of Christ” [Eph 3, 8].

10. Before concluding my words to you today, my dear Brethren in Christ Jesus, I wish to emphasize once more the great need for holiness in our lives. To exercise fruitfully our role as pastors of God’s people, we must know Christ and love him. In a word, we are called to friendship with the Lord, just as the Apostles were. Like Jesus we are the object of the Father’s love and the Holy Spirit is alive in our hearts. The effectiveness of everything we do depends on our union with Jesus, on our holiness of life. There is no other way to be a worthy Bishop, a good Shepherd of the flock. There is no pastoral leadership without prayer, for only in prayer is union with Jesus maintained. Only by being like Jesus, Son of Mary, who is the Mother of us all, can we fulfil our mission to the Church.

May Mary Queen of Apostles sustain you in holiness and love, in prayer and pastoral charity, and help you to bring Jesus to all your people, to all Kenya, to all Africa.

Praised be Jesus Christ, "the chief Shepherd" [1 Pt 5, 4] of God’s people, "the Bishop and Shepherd of our souls" [1 Pt 2, 25]."

Pope St John Paul II's words at his departure from Kenya 
Nairobi, Thursday 8 May 1980 - also in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Friends,
1. After two unforgettable days, I wish to express my profound gratitude for the truly African hospitality which I have received here. The kindness, the openness and the joy of the people of Kenya have impressed me deeply. Now I know what it means to be swept up by the enthusiastic reception of an African community. More than ever, I now feel that I belong to you.

My mission now takes me to other African countries. Thank you for the strength and the joy you have given me. Thank you for having made me so much a part of your hopes and achievements, for having shared with me your determination to go on building a nation, united in its pursuit of just progress for all, faithful to its culture and traditions, strong in its belief that joint efforts will succeed.

I keep in my heart and I shall cherish for ever all the moments of-this wonderful visit, all the people I have met; I shall remember your music and your songs. In the prayers we shared, I have felt deep communion with you, a communion that neither distance nor time can diminish.

2. My gratitude goes to His Excellency the President of Kenya, to all the autorities of the nation and of the city of Nairobi, to those responsible for public order during these days. I feel indebted to all the people who have contributed their time, their work and their services to create the conditions that have made this visit such a rewarding experience. A very special word of thanks to the management and staff of the Voice of Kenya and the local press, as well as to the foreign media, which made it possible for me to enter, with my friendship and message, the homes and villages of many who could not be here. How much I would have liked to travel across your land and to meet each one of you, to greet and bless you, and to learn firsthand about your lives and struggles. I hope that the words and the pictures which the media have brought to you were able to convey my esteem, my encouragement and my deep love for every human being in this beautiful land.

3. How can I adequately express my gratitude to my brother Bishops for the moments of grace which we shared in our meetings and liturgical celebration? Moments of grace, yes, moments of divine grace; for I have seen that you have accepted the message of Christ. Your churches in the cities and villages, your schools and hospitals, the ministry of your priests, the dedication of your men and women religious, the sacramental life of your faithful, the many activities by which the laity assume their share of the mission of evangelization - all of this bears witness to the grace of God which is at work in your midst. At this moment of departure, I wish therefore to thank God with you for the dynamic Church in Kenya.

4. One last thought I wish to leave with you. A nation that holds God in honour cannot fail to receive the blessings of God. Even when you meet problems, even when new difficulties arise, your trust in God will be the guarantee that you will overcome all obstacles, and that you will build a nation where unity and love reign, where brotherhood and peace flourish, where everyone works together for the future in the spirit of Harambee. The Creator has given every human being a dignity that is unsurpassed and that is equal for all. Your common efforts in the further development of your nation will succeed when they are inspired by respect for the fundamental God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child, and by the desire to create the necessary conditions so that families and all people may enjoy the dignity that is theirs as children of God.

Assuring you once again of my fraternal affection and esteem, I now take leave of Kenya.
To all of you, to all the people of Kenya, I wish to say once more: thank you all! Asanteni sana!
Till we meet again! Kwa herini, kwa herini ya kuonana!
May God bless you! Mungu awabariki!
May God bless all Kenya!"