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To overcome fear

· ​Pope Francis in Kenya ·

After travelling more than 5,000 miles, passing over the Mediterranean Sea and into the midst of thousands of downtrodden people in search of a future, the Pope arrived in Africa. The visit, which has been so intensely longed for and anticipated, began on Wednesday, 25 November.

The continent ordinarily exploited for its resources is now the centre of a world which, while pummeled and shocked by violence and hatred, yearns for a message of hope. The escalation of terror and fear triggered by ISIS fundamentalists in Paris on 13 November and bolstered the following Friday by the terrorist attack on a hotel in Bamako, Mali, is only the most recent and glaring expression of the “piecemeal world war” repeatedly denounced by the Pontiff. In this context there is already a highly symbolic value to the first stop on the itinerary: Kenya. Here, there linger vivid memories the horrific massacre at Garissa University on 2 April, when 150 young people were killed at the hands of the Islamist group al-Shabaab. Today everyone looks forward to words of comfort and support from the Pontiff. Thus, the motto of the visit, “Stand strong in faith, do not be afraid”, is utterly apropos.

Francis’ 11th international journey embraces a continent which historically is among those most torn apart, he recalled just days ago, by the cynicism of those who claim not to want war but instead feed it through the illegal weapons trade. Such as in the Central African Republic, the final destination of the papal itinerary, where the people are completely worn out by three years of grisly civil war. The Pope is making his first visit to this continent precisely to be a messenger of peace, dialogue and reconciliation; to focus on the poor, the suffering and the marginalized who call this marvelous yet martyred land their home. 

Maurizio Fontana

PRINTED EDITION

 

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