We are ready for the Pope – State House
With slightly over two weeks to arrival of Pope Francis to Kenya, preparations are in top gear with the government and the church working hand-in-hand to ensure a successful visit.
The Pope’s visit will be the first to the continent since he took over Vatican as the head of over 1.2 billion and will touch down at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on the 25th of this month.
According to State House, the Pope’s themes on his Apostolic journey will include; strengthening the family unit, peace and stability, inter-religious, and inter-ethnic tolerance and inclusivity among others.
“The Holy Father will also discuss Climate Change when he visits with diplomats at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri. His speech is critical, as it will come only a few days before the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change, known by the acronym COP21, which will be held in Paris,” said State House through its spokesperson Manoah Esipisu.
The COP21 aim is to conclude a universal, ambitious, and sustainable agreement that contributes to containing average global temperature rises below 2 degrees Celsius, and thus lay the ground for a better future for the coming generations.
The government says its preparedness in terms of security during the Pope’s visit is unmatched and everything is in order.
“Many of you have enquired, persistently I might add, about our security preparedness. The Inspector-General of Police and his team in Nairobi County will discuss finer details at an appropriate time,” added esipisu.
“Security agencies continue to fine-tune plans to secure the city during a particularly busy period, and when we expect Nairobi’s population to swell by an additional one million people.”
He added: “The Inspector General of Police says that the security agencies are ready to receive the Pope. The operation itself will, typically, be multi-agency. The Kenya Police Service, the Kenya Prisons and the National Youth Service are among agencies mobilizing for the event.”
Around 10,000 police officers will be deployed and an additional 10,000 NYS servicemen involved in crowd management.
However, the government says unlike the visit by President Barack Obama when it encouraged people to stay home, it is now encouraging Kenyans to flock into the city to cheer the Pope and celebrate mass with him.
“As this is a state and pastoral visit, the Pope himself has expressed the desire that as many people as possible have access to him, and when the routes he will take during the tour are announced, you will see that they reflect this desire.”
The Pope, upon arrival, will head to State House for bilateral meetings and addresses to the Nation, the University of Nairobi for Holy Mass, UNEP Headquarters for meetings with diplomats and discussion on climate change, the small community church in Kangemi, young people at Kasarani, and a meeting with the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops at Kasarani.
The Papal Programme
November 25: Papal entourage arrives. It will then head to State House for formal reception ceremonies, including military honours. The Pope will hold a private meeting with the President, then go to bilateral meetings with the President and Government; then the President and the Pope will make addresses.
November 26: An ecumenical and interreligious meeting at the Nunciature, followed by Holy Mass at the University of Nairobi with spillovers at Central and Uhuru Parks; he will then head to St Marys School for a meeting with clergy, priests, nuns and seminarians; and then the address at UNEP.
November 27: The Pope will visit St John the Worker Church in Kangemi; then visit with youth at Kasarani. A meeting with Bishops will also happen at Kasarani before departures at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.