On his first full day in Kenya, Pope Francis insisted on Thursday that religion could never be used to justify violence and lamented that “all too often young people are being radicalised in the name of religion to sow discord and fear, and to tear at the very fabric of our societies”. He said interfaith dialogue is not a luxury or optional, but is simply “essential”.
NAIROBI, Kenya (RNS) On the second day of his Africa tour, Pope Francis touched on familiar themes during an outdoor Mass the University of Nairobi: the health for families, the embrace of children, and respect between men and women.
But earlier in the day, at a meeting with other Kenya religious leaders, Francis stressed the importance of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.
Kenya has seen repeated terrorist strikes by the militant Muslim group al-Shabab, including massacres at the Westgate shopping Mall in 2013 and at Garissa University College in April.
The pope said bridging divisions between Muslims and Christians was not a luxury.
“This relationship is challenging, it makes demands of us,” said the Pontiff. “It is not something extra or optional, but essential — something which our world, wounded by conflict and division increasingly needs.”
Kenya is mostly Christian, but Islam is the second largest faith, practised by about 11 percent of the population.
The country’s youth have been heavily recruited by al-Shabab militants largely because of its location. It shares a long border with Somalia. In addition, Kenya is one of the biggest contributors to African Union troops in Somalia
Pope Francis arrives in Africa